Learn from poultry farmers to cut antibiotic use, pig producers told
The UK pig sector should look to poultry farmers to learn how to limit antibiotic use, according to an animal health expert.
Poultry producers have made huge developments in reducing antimicrobial use without compromising on herd health status, vet Richard Turner of Applied Bacterial Control told Farming UK.
And he said applying the same principles could provide answers for pig producers across the UK.
“While there is pressure from all angles to cut down on antibiotic usage, it’s not simple case of just deciding to not use them,” Turner said.
Looking at management practices is key to making improvements to health and welfare, which will have knock-on effects on the amount of treatments animals require.
Some of the most important areas to consider include managing the pigs’ environment effectively and limiting stress, which has been shown to disrupt the gut and the microbiome, he said.
“While there is still much to be discovered about the microbiome in pigs there is a lot that can be learnt from the work of the poultry industry.
“The key thing we have derived is that the correct balance of bacteria has a direct correlation with improved health status.
“Good management practises on farm will encourage the development of good bacteria in the pig’s gut — promoting a strong immune system and reducing the need for antibiotics.”
In terms of managing the environment to limit health issues, Turner said it is important to supply clean water and ensure cleanable water systems are in place.
“As well as this, pig producers should ensure not only that housing is washed down properly but also the correct products are used to ensure all harmful bacteria is removed,” he added.