ForFarmers UK recognized for work done to reduce antibiotic use in pig production

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/masterzphotois
© GettyImages/masterzphotois

Related tags Pig Antibiotics Zinc copper Diarrhea

ForFarmers has been shortlisted for this year’s Antibiotic Guardian Awards in the UK under the animal health, agriculture and food supply category, as a result of the work it has done on antibiotic reduction in that country’s pig sector.

The winners will be announced later this month at a ceremony in Birmingham.

The Antibiotic Guardian​ campaign is led by Public Health England (PHE) and got underway in 2014. It is backed by the UK’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and by the professional bodies and organizations supporting the ‘One Health’ initiative.

The UK pig industry’s antibiotic stewardship program is aiming to reduce the sector’s antibiotic use​ from a baseline of 263.5mg/PCU in 2015 to 99mg/PCU in 2020.

ForFarmers said it has been closely collaborating with pig farmers, veterinarians, abattoirs and retailers in that respect. 

Indeed, finding ways to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) will only come through collaboration across different sectors and professions with a common goal, said ForFarmers commercial director, Chris Jenkins.

Feed composition adjustments

From 2015 onwards, the feed manufacturer said it changed the nutritional composition of its diets for all life stages to enhance gut health and integrity to support improved animal health and welfare; in 2018, it said it managed to reduce medication in the formulated feeds it supplied to UK pig farmers by a further 27%.

In 2018, ForFarmers UK ran a series of pig production focused workshops nationwide in partnership with the UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). The seminars were about providing practical advice to farmers on strategies to improve health and reduce the use of in-feed medication.

The workshops were attended by over 100 producers, representing a high proportion of the national pig population,”​ Jenkins told us.

Leveraging the learnings from colleagues based in continental Europe on antibiotic reduction, the training sessions ForFarmers ran with AHDB covered management and nutrition, including the use of organic acid complexes and also looked at the importance of good water quality.

Nutritional concept 

The company said it has given particular focus to the nutrition and management at the time of weaning, a stressful time for piglets, which often experience disturbance in their gut microbiota, a development that can see farmers using high levels of medication to keep piglets free of diarrhea.

ForFarmers said it has developed an approach to support improvements in gut health, while reducing the use of medication during the weaning phase as well as the reliance on zinc and high dietary copper levels. 

Jenkins said the company would be providing more details about this strategy in the autumn: “This concept will be further developed and implemented in 2019 in partnership with veterinarians and pig farmers.”​ 

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