Red Tractor said the move will help the sector ‘better demonstrate’ how producers are reducing antibiotic use
Red Tractor-assured pig producers will be required to use an electronic medicine book (e-MB) to record antibiotic use every three months from November.
Data from April 1 to June 30 and July 1 and September 30 must be uploaded by November 1. From November, the e-MB must be updated quarterly.
Red Tractor assured farms already record all medicines but the e-MB was previously optional.
Red Tractor’s chairman for pigs, Mike Sheldon said: “Red Tractor farmers currently administer antibiotics as little as possible but as much as is required. The e-MB will provide that data to demonstrate this point to government and its agencies.
“During the recent Red Tractor standards consultation we asked the whole industry for their comments and have received overwhelming support from retailers, trade associations and animal welfare groups.
“We appreciate that this will be new to most producers but electronic data will help the pig industry to play its part in tackling antimicrobial resistance – an issue which affects all livestock farmers.”
Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) said it would help its Targets Task Force to ‘propose realistic reduction targets for the sector’.
RUMA secretary general, John FitzGerald, said: “We are delighted that Red Tractor pig farmers will be required to use the e-MB as this will provide accurate information on antibiotic use in pig production.
"This will provide valuable data for farmers managing their antibiotic use and the RUMA TTF. Indeed, as the TTF is required to complete its work in 2017 it would be very helpful if Red Tractor pig farmers used the e-MB as soon as they can.”
National Pig Association (NPA) chief executive Zoe Davies said it was a ‘very important’ step forward.
“We are proud of how the pig industry is stepping up to the challenge and taking this big leap forward to demonstrate responsible use of antibiotics and reduce and refine usage where necessary.”
Martin Smith, AHDB Pork’s veterinary senior manager, said: “AHDB Pork welcomes this move by Red Tractor and although e-MB is straightforward to use, we are willing to help producers if they require assistance.”
AHDB pork have provided a user guide for producers on its website.