Archive for the ‘RUMA News’ Category

The British Poultry Council shares with RUMA some of the most frequently asked questions about antibiotics

In the third part of our focus on the poultry meat sector and its significant achievements in the reduction of and responsible use of antibiotics, we asked BPC Technical Director, Máire Burnett, to share some of the most frequently asked questions regarding antibiotic use.

Below, Máire clarifies misconceptions and dispels some of the common myths about antibiotic usage.

 

Q: Is zero use of antibiotics ever possible?

British poultry farmers and vets need antibiotics in their toolbox. Delivering excellence in bird health and welfare is the foundation of the responsible use of antibiotics and is about much more than reduction targets.

In the last 10 years we have stopped all preventative treatments, and the highest priority antibiotics that are critically important for humans are used only as a ‘last resort’ for chickens and turkeys.

Zero use is neither ethical nor sustainable as it goes against a farmer’s and vet’s duty to the animals in their care to address any health and welfare issues.

 

Q: What is the story behind BPC Antibiotic Stewardship?

The British Poultry Council (BPC) Antibiotic Stewardship scheme was established in 2011 to ensure sustainable use of antibiotics; to protect the health and welfare of our birds; to safeguard the efficacy of antibiotics; to produce food consumers’ trust. As a result, we became the first UK livestock sector to pioneer a data collection mechanism and share antibiotic usage data with the government’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

Through our Stewardship, the sector is delivering excellence in bird health and welfare by monitoring and reviewing on-farm management practices and ensuring responsible use of antibiotics throughout our supply chain.

The British Poultry Council’s Antibiotic Stewardship has led the way in understanding the sector’s use of antibiotics and delivered an 80.2% reduction in the overall use of antibiotics as well as an 82.6% reduction in the use of Critically Important Antibiotics (CIAs) for human health.

We’re committed to ensuring that antibiotic therapies are used with good animal husbandry techniques, ‘only when necessary’, and under the direction of a veterinarian, to protect the health and welfare of birds under our care.”

 

Q: Are antibiotic residues found in the poultry meat we eat?

Not at all. If you eat poultry, you’re not eating the antibiotics the bird may have been given.

There are strict regulations governing what we call the ‘withdrawal period’ (how much time passes between antibiotic treatment and when the animal leaves the farm) to ensure that there are no residues in the meat when it comes to human consumption.

 

Q: Do large and small farms face the same challenge of antimicrobial resistance?

The size of the farm or the production system, has no link at all with the development of resistance.

 

Q: Does reducing the use of antibiotics mean less instances of resistance?

Reducing, refining and replacing the use of antibiotics helps reduce selection for resistance.  Resistant bacteria strains can occur naturally, as well as through overuse of antibiotics, so simply reducing usage doesn’t necessarily lessen resistance.

 

Q: Are antibiotics used for growth promotion?

No. The use of antibiotics for growth promotion has been banned across the EU since 2006.

 

Q: Why treat whole flocks?

Sometimes there is a need to treat whole flocks for a disease outbreak, practiced under the guidance and authority of a vet. Just like humans, animals can get ill. When a disease outbreak occurs, the treatment of whole flocks or defined populations of birds under veterinary supervision is the most effective and practical method of treatment.

 

In summary, Máire says: “Our success in reducing antibiotic use is down to the commitment of the sector and its people to only use antibiotics when necessary to treat sick birds. An openness to accept change, encourage innovation and share best practice has taken us from strength to strength and will continue to do so.”

RUMA Sector in Focus campaign – Poultry Meat: About the BPC Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme

In the second article about the Poultry Meat sector, the British Poultry Council (BPC) shares with RUMA details about the inception and work of the BPC Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme.

The scheme has been fundamental to the reductions in antibiotic use that have been achieved by the sector over the past decade. The British poultry meat sector was the first livestock sector to voluntarily develop a strategy for the responsible use of antibiotics, finding the path for other sectors to follow suit. Since then, BPC member businesses have successfully reduced their total antibiotic use by nearly 75%. As the sector producing half the meat eaten in Britain every year, BPC’s Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme plays a crucial role in delivering good bird health and welfare, ensuring responsible use of antibiotics, safeguarding the efficacy of antibiotics, and helping produce food people can trust.

The BPC Antibiotic Stewardship is based on the successful implementation of the three R’s (Replace, Reduce and Refine), supported by the principles of animal husbandry, hygiene and stockmanship.

RUMA Poultry Campaign 2022

About the BPC Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme

The BPC’s Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme was established in 2011, bringing together expertise from producers and poultry veterinarians. The main objectives of the scheme are:

  • To maintain the integrity of all classes of antibiotics to support both human and animal health
  • To collect and monitor use of all antibiotic classes in the UK poultry meat sector
  • To work with the UK government sharing antibiotic use data with the VMD
  • To support further research into ESBLs in GB broiler flocks
  • To promote and apply best practice at all steps of production

The Scheme focuses on antibiotics considered to be of ‘most highly critical importance for human health’ by the WHO. The VMD annually collects and publishes data on antibiotic products sold that are licensed for use in food-producing animals. Until the BPC’s Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme was established, only VMD’s sales data was used to monitor antibiotic sales in livestock. In 2011, BPC and its members took proactive steps to begin collecting data measuring usage, not just sales – representative of over 90% of UK poultry meat production – to identify where the scheme should take action.

BPC Chairman, Graeme Dear, says: “BPC Antibiotic Stewardship has been highly successful in driving best practice across the industry. Our farmers and veterinarians are setting an example for others around the world to follow through sustainable use of antibiotics. They uphold the UK’s position at the forefront of international efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance by effectively managing usage and protecting the health and welfare of birds, while producing food that consumers can trust.”

When looking to the future, Mr Dear says: “Through the Scheme we continue to focus efforts on ongoing and future challenges such as continuing to examine the link between antibiotic use and resistance in the poultry production chain so we can facilitate sustainable change across the industry.

“We remain committed to working closely with our members to better understand why and when antibiotics are used, and in what quantity. This allows us to transparently communicate our actions and share best practice on sustainable use to make a meaningful contribution to the global debate on antimicrobial resistance. Through ongoing coordinated action between poultry meat farmers, processors and the scientific community, as well as policy makers at all global levels, we will continue preserving the efficacy of our antibiotics.”

RUMA Poultry Campaign 2022

 

In summary

BPC Antibiotic Stewardship ensures sustainable use of antibiotics to protect the health and welfare of birds, to safeguard the efficacy of antibiotics, and to produce food consumers’ trust.

As a result of BPC Antibiotic Stewardship, set up in 2011, the poultry meat sector became the first UK livestock sector to pioneer a data collection mechanism and share antibiotic usage data with the government’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). In the last ten years, the poultry meat industry has led the way in understanding its own use of antibiotics and its impact as well as sharing best practice on the sustainable use of antibiotics with other livestock sectors. Data collected by the BPC is published every year as part of the UK-Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance (UK-VARSS) report.

RUMA and the British Poultry Council (BPC) in conversation: a decade of poultry meat antibiotic stewardship success

In the first of a series of articles about the Poultry Meat sector, RUMA has partnered with the British Poultry Council (BPC), to highlight the sector’s 10 years of antibiotic stewardship.

The British poultry meat industry was the first livestock sector to voluntarily develop a strategy for the responsible use of antibiotics. In this article we hear from experts in the sector who share details of the work that has been undertaken to date to uphold the UK’s position at the forefront of international efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance and keep antibiotics effective for future generations.
RUMA Poultry Campaign 2022
The Poultry Meat sector is under the Government approved RUMA species-specific sector targets and has demonstrated a successful approach to tackling AMR, evidenced by it achieving and then sustaining its reduction targets.

RUMA asked Máire Burnett, Technical Director at the BPC to share an overview of the sector’s AMR journey to date, which started over a decade ago. She says: “Back in 2011, BPC and our members recognised the growing need for the poultry meat sector to reduce the usage of antibiotics particularly the critically important antibiotics (antibiotics used to treat both humans and animals) in UK poultry meat production.

“We were the first UK livestock sector to pioneer a data collection mechanism for antibiotic use, covering over 90% of the poultry meat sector and the first sector to share this data with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and wider stakeholders. The results speak for themselves. Since 2012, our Stewardship Scheme – comprising of BPC members – has helped achieve a 74.2% reduction in the total use of antibiotics; a 95.5% reduction in the use of critically important antibiotics and a 97.2% reduction in the use of fluroquinolones.”

Chris Lloyd, RUMA Secretary General, says: “The British poultry meat sector has achieved great results over the past decade and, alongside all UK livestock sectors, stands committed to upholding the UK’s position at the forefront of international efforts to keep antibiotics effective for future generations.

“Thanks to the sector’s openness to change, innovation and transparency to drive excellence in bird health and welfare, UK poultry meat producers have stopped all preventative treatments and the highest priority antibiotics that are critically important for humans are used only as a ‘last resort.’ “

Coinciding with the implementation of the Stewardship Scheme is a reduction in antibiotic resistant genes. The impact on AMR has been encouragingly positive. BPC members have undertaken independent surveys in 2013 and 2019 to assess levels of ESBL, showing a reduction in antibiotic resistance genes alongside the decreased use of antibiotics. The results correlate with the VMD’s monitoring of ESBLs in retail broiler meat.

Chris continues: “The UK government set strong national reduction targets in its One Health AMR strategy. It challenged the livestock industry specifically to reduce antibiotic use by 25% between 2016 and 2020, which was surpassed, and achieved through voluntary collaboration and commitment. Poultry Meat remains below the Government approved RUMA species specific sector targets and their efforts and achievements should be applauded.”

RUMA Poultry Campaign 2022

The BPC Antibiotic Stewardship is based on the successful implementation of the three R’s (Replace, Reduce and Refine), supported by the principles of animal husbandry, hygiene and stockmanship:

  • REPLACE Review and replace antibiotics used where effective alternatives are available
  • REDUCE Reducing the number of birds receiving treatment, through systems based on risk assessment
  • REFINE Continue to refine existing strategies, using data collection

BPC Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said: “The British poultry meat sector is feeding the nation with safe, wholesome, and nutritious food. From two and a half thousand farms across the UK, our skilled and dedicated farmers grow nearly a billion birds every year to world class standards.

“The success of BPC Antibiotic Stewardship is underpinned by the three R’s: replace, reduce, and refine. They are implemented by our committed and professional workforce at every step of the production chain, ensuring that antibiotic therapies are used with good animal husbandry techniques ‘only when necessary’ and under the direction of a veterinarian.”

The past decade has seen some great industry collaboration and achievements in response to the AMR challenge. In more recent times, the British poultry meat industry has worked hard to mitigate the challenges brought around by COVID-19, Brexit and Avian Influenza. With a responsibility to feed the nation, and a duty of care to protect the health and wellbeing of their birds, poultry meat producers have demonstrated phenomenal resilience and continue to collaboratively drive improvements and best practice across the whole supply chain.

Richard adds: “Through ongoing coordinated action between poultry farmers, veterinarians, producers and policy makers at all levels, we will continue to preserve the efficacy of our antibiotics and contribute to turning the tide against antimicrobial resistance.”

RUMA commentary on The Animal Health and Welfare Pathway

RUMA was pleased to hear the plans for the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway from UK Environment Secretary, George Eustice, which he set out at the recent NFU Conference. The pathway is a programme of financial support for farmers in the pig, cattle, sheep and poultry sectors and will push forward and support continual improvement in farm animal health and welfare.

The pathway is a key part of the farming reforms set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan, delivering benefits for animal health and welfare, farm productivity, food security, public health, UK trade and the environment. RUMA Chair, Cat McLaughlin, who also sits on the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway Steering Group, said: “The pathway is an important initiative for UK farming and will further support the commitment of the industry to continue to drive the best health and welfare outcomes.

“The pathway starts with an annual vet visit subsidised by the government, which will give farmers and vets dedicated time to review, refine and where necessary strengthen animal health and welfare plans, which will also drive improved profitability.

“The vet visits which are expected to launch later this year, will cover diagnostic testing, review of biosecurity and discussions around the responsible use of medicines.”

Chris Lloyd, RUMA Secretary General added: “The pathway project is a potential game-changer for the livestock sectors and represents a fresh and positive shift in government policy to help farmers with the health and welfare of their livestock.

“Providing funding to enable farmers to have time set aside with their vet to review and refine a farm’s proactive health management plans, is a really positive opportunity. The vet and farmer relationship is so important, and this initiative will have ongoing benefits and impacts.”

The initiative will also include measures such as reducing mastitis and lameness in dairy cattle, improving biosecurity to control pig diseases endemic to the UK and improving the feather cover of laying hens. To help farming sectors make these improvements, Animal Health and Welfare Grants will be launched within the next year to fund investments such as equipment and technology or larger projects like upgrading housing for dairy cattle to deliver improvements in lameness, cow comfort and calf mortality.

At the NFU conference, Environment Secretary, George Eustice said:

“The Animal Health and Welfare Pathway is for those farmers who are in pursuit of higher profitability through better health outcomes, and it starts with an annual vet visit.
“Farmers will be able to have a vet of their choice, the family vet that they trust, and the government will pay. That vet will be able to help the farmer put together a plan for improved animal health and improved profitability on their livestock holding.”

Chief Vet, Christine Middlemiss said:

“I hope to see wide-scale adoption of the Annual Health and Welfare Review as part of normal business practice, more farmers taking action to improve health and welfare, and improved outcomes when it comes to endemic diseases and conditions – which will improve animal health welfare and reduce waste, antibiotic use and financial losses.”

RUMA viewpoint: After years of falling sales, are reductions in antibiotic use now plateauing?

In response to this question, RUMA Secretary General, Chris Lloyd says: “The UK government set strong national reduction targets in its AMR strategy. It challenged the livestock industry to reduce antibiotic use by 25% between 2016 and 2020 – which we surpassed.

“UK sales of antibiotics to treat food producing animals have halved since 2014 and the UK holds the position of seventh-lowest sales of antibiotics for food producing animals in Europe, the lowest among more commercially productive European countries.

“In addition, Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotic (HP-CIA) sales for UK food producing animals have also fallen 75% since 2014, and sales of colistin are virtually nil. Less than 30% of the UK’s antibiotics are used to treat disease in food producing animals, despite over a billion farm animals being reared and managed in the UK every year, and levels of antibiotic resistance found through Government monitoring and surveillance are also stabilising and falling in response to reductions in use.”

The current targets up to 2024 further reinforce the ongoing commitment across all the sectors to achieve sustainable reductions.

But, it is inevitable that progress will slow down, explains Chris, as we reach that fine balance between ensuring animal health and welfare, and further sensible antibiotic reductions: “The biggest reductions have been seen in those sectors who as higher users of antibiotics were the first to tackle the issue and have been monitoring and working on reduction strategies the longest, such as the poultry and pig sectors.

“Going forward the challenge is to maintain the reduced levels of antibiotic use achieved whilst not negatively affecting the health and welfare of the animals we rear. There are plans in place to work with the higher users of antibiotics to help them reduce their use sustainably. But progress will be slower, and it is important to note that the targets are not about driving towards zero antibiotic use. Antibiotics are there as a tool to treat sick animals. The removal of these tools, whether through regulation or a loss of effectiveness, could reduce the ability of a vet to respond to an animal’s clinical need. This presents a threat to the animal’s welfare. Each sector will ultimately reach a sustainable level, below which further reductions could create issues of animal welfare. It will then be about ongoing maintenance.”

RUMA viewpoint: Overview of what the ruminant sectors are doing to help collate data on antibiotic use

Data collection is one of the main challenges for the ruminant sectors as RUMA Chair, Cat McLaughlin, explains: “Collation of robust data remains a priority especially in the ruminant sectors. Industry level data and figures are essential to illustrate the general direction of travel with antibiotic use, but farm level data is also vital and empowers farmers to own their own goals and targets to achieve realistic and sustainable levels of responsible use. We know the importance of data to help give a full and robust picture; this has been demonstrated already in the Pig (eMB-Pigs (ahdb.org.uk) and Poultry sectors where data has helped shape their reduction journeys.

“Evidence from the limited usage data available for the ruminant sectors, plus anecdotal insights from the veterinary profession for cattle and sheep, suggest that all ruminant sectors are comparatively low users of antibiotics. We need to understand more about where the pockets of use are focused and help these producers address their underlying disease challenges.”

In answer to the challenge of getting data for the ruminant sectors, Mark Jelley, Beef Farmer and Chair of the Cattle Antibiotic Guardian Group, says: “It’s quite simple really and comes down to the sheer size and scale of the ruminant sectors. We have the largest number of producers and so data collection, which is key to helping understand antibiotic use and developing targets, is naturally going to be a bigger challenge compared to smaller sectors. Watch Mark’s video here.

“To date, we have had fragmented data which is held in different formats, so trying to gain a coherent view of all data for the beef, dairy and sheep sectors has been difficult and somewhat challenging. That is why work has been underway to develop key initiatives to make data capture much easier and more cohesive. We now have the Medicine Hub (MH Medicine Hub for dairy, beef and sheep farmers | AHDB), a web-based recording system developed by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) which is designed to make it as easy as possible to capture data. The aim of the Medicine Hub is to provide a national picture of antibiotic use data and will enable us to compare across sectors. It should allow farmers and vets to understand what is going on across individual farms and provide a national picture too. The tool is available for farmers to use right now – I’ve used it myself and it is really straightforward. We know we are relatively low users of antibiotics but we can’t demonstrate it so the Medicine Hub will give us that all important evidence we need. That evidence will also help to reassure consumers that we are low users, and it will help highlight the UK’s high health and welfare standards.

“The concept behind the Medicine Hub has achieved widespread support and it is hoped this will become the primary data hub for collating existing and inputting new ruminant antibiotic usage data, so we have everything in one place. Avoiding duplication of inputting effort is key.
“There is also the FarmAssist Scheme (Farm Assist (farmassistnml.co.uk), which captures antibiotic use for participating milk processors, vets and producers, which is an excellent resource to describe the use of antibiotics on dairy herds in Great Britain. Initiatives like the Farm Assist Scheme, alongside the recently launched Medicine Hub, will prove invaluable in helping to put the right plans in place to achieve the reduction targets over the coming years.”

The Farm Vet Champions (Farm Vet Champions – RCVS Knowledge) initiative was also launched last year. It is a major collaborative project designed to unite and empower UK farm animal veterinary practitioners as they establish good antimicrobial stewardship in practices and on farms. The project has brought together major UK specialised veterinary and agriculture organisations to develop free learning materials for farm veterinary professionals to improve animal health and welfare standards and provide positive inspiration and leadership towards antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The project supports agricultural veterinary professionals to continue to improve animal health and welfare standards and aims to provide positive inspiration and leadership towards One Health efforts.

Finally, there is the Government Animal Health Pathway which gets underway this year. Cats says: “This will be a new and fresh way to support farmers and vets to come together and tackle the disease challenges on the farm. It will help build closer working relationships between vets and farmers, with an ability to identify the specific disease challenges on farms. The anticipated benefits of health and welfare improvements on farms include the potential reduction for the need for antibiotic treatments, as well as benefitting the government’s productivity strategy, as healthy animals are productive animals.”

In summary, Cat says: “Having data to build the picture of antibiotic use for a sector is really important at two levels; nationally, it helps to show the trend of antibiotic use in the sector, and at a farm level, once data becomes available, it offers an opportunity for producers to use their medicine data as a management discussion tool. Data helps galvanise both industry activity and farm level discussions and it is clear to see that although the ruminant sectors are playing catch up in terms of national data collation, there is no shortage of commitment and initiatives in place to drive positive change.”

RUMA response to new EU antibiotics policy

From 28 January 2022, a ban on the administration of antibiotics to groups of healthy animals came into force across the EU. This has sparked much interest and discussion about the impacts and opportunities ahead for UK legislation. But, says RUMA, it is important to recognise how well-advanced UK agriculture is with regards reductions in antibiotic use.

Chris Lloyd, RUMA Secretary General says: “There have already been hugely positive voluntary achievements across UK agriculture in reducing the use of antibiotics which have helped to halve the use to treat UK farm animals and has seen the use of Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics in animals reduce by 79% since 2014.

“There are voluntary antibiotic reduction targets in place for every UK livestock sector, as set by the RUMA Targets Task Force, which demonstrate the industry’s ongoing support to the responsible use of antibiotics and has put the UK ahead of most EU countries. Rules on medicines use are enshrined in, legislation, Farm Assurance schemes, supply chain agreements, and there are also a number of significant industry initiatives in place such as the AHDB led electronic medicine book for pigs (eMB-Pigs) and more recently the Medicine Hub for ruminants. Vets are a key component of engagement with farmers, and another recently launched initiative is Farm Vet Champions (FVC), which brings together major UK specialised veterinary and agriculture organisations to develop free learning materials for farm veterinary professionals to improve animal health and welfare standards and provide positive inspiration and leadership towards antimicrobial resistance (AMR). All this puts AMR and medicine use front and centre in the way we produce quality livestock products in the UK.

“We would expect that future developments to UK legislation will only seek to further maintain UK agriculture’s commitment to the efforts and achievements already well underway. However, when we consider future UK legislation, we must bear in mind what position that puts us in with regards to imports and exports. On the one hand there is the desire from UK farmers for a level playing field for imported products, but we need to ensure we maintain vital access to existing and new export markets.”

Chris adds: “The UK is seen as a leader when it comes to the responsible use of antibiotics, so RUMA feels strongly that there is no danger of the UK falling behind. In fact, the reductions already achieved mean that, rather than lagging behind the EU, the UK is, in fact, one of the lowest users of antibiotics. The 52% reduction in antibiotic use since 2014 which has been achieved through voluntary multi-sector collaboration, is testament to this.

“RUMA does not support the routine use of preventative antibiotic treatments, a practice that is not common on British, but feels that compulsory controls are a ‘blunt tool’ which wouldn’t take into account the complexities across each of the sectors. There is also a real danger that blanket bans will be to the detriment of animal health and welfare. Antibiotics will always have a place in both human and animal medicine and it is vital to have medicines in our cabinet to tackle disease and protect animal and human health and welfare. But this is not a drive to zero use. RUMA believes it is important for vets to have medicines available to tackle disease and ensure animal health and welfare, following the principles of responsible use: as little as possible, but as much as is necessary, at the right time and in the right situations.”

RUMA has been asked to comment directly on the question around whether a UK-wide ban on the administration of antibiotics to groups of animals for disease prevention should be made compulsory in the UK. In response to this question, RUMA Chair, Cat McLaughlin said: “Whilst this is a legitimate area for discussion, the reality of treating groups of animals is often a complex scenario when considering the best outcome for the welfare of the animals involved. However, given the UK’s significant achievements already, RUMA would welcome dialogue with the industry and the VMD in terms of what any future UK legislation says regarding preventative treatments in groups of animals.

In summary, Cat says: “As we sit here today, we must reflect and take into account that when it comes to AMR, UK agriculture has been championing reductions for the past ten years through a huge multi-sector voluntary effort which has been done largely without the need for blanket bans. So, while legislation does play a key role, it is important to recognise the incredible commitment already – all of which has focused the minds of the industry on the responsible use of antibiotics for over a decade.

“The EU, by its very infrastructure comprising multiple countries and historic approaches to medicine use, has a complicated challenge when considering a response to AMR, and this will have influenced the approach it has taken in its legislation. Post ‘Brexit,’ we have the opportunity to frame future UK legislation which marries our successful voluntary approach with an appropriate legislative framework that is the best fit for UK agriculture.”

VMD announce the withdrawal of marketing authorisations (MAs) of veterinary medicines containing zinc oxide

RUMA supports pragmatic decision to allow the responsible use of existing supplies of zinc oxide in the supply chain (within shelf life) after the withdrawal date.

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has confirmed that the UK will implement the European Commission Decision to withdraw the marketing authorisations (MAs) of medicines containing zinc oxide for oral administration to food producing animals by 26 June 2022. This Commission Implementing Decision was passed before the Brexit agreement, and therefore automatically forms part of the EU law retained by the UK.

In the UK, there are two veterinary medicines containing zinc oxide authorised for oral administration to food-producing animals, both of which will be affected by the withdrawal. These products have historically been used to protect the health and welfare of weaned piglets.

The Responsible use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance welcomes news that use of existing supplies of zinc oxide in the supply chain (within their shelf life) can continue after the withdrawal date. This is in accordance with established practice when MAs expire, and a product is no longer being placed on the market.

RUMA Chair, Cat McLaughlin, said: “There has been a lot of engagement and hard work between the UK Pig Industry and the VMD. It is important that everyone in the supply chain understands this ‘run out’ of product will be a legitimate action post 26th June.

“We understand most products have a two-year shelf life. This allows for a reasonable window to use up product already in the system and gives time for the exploration of alternative weaning strategies and management where zinc products are currently being used. Producers are encouraged to talk to their feed suppliers to ensure regular orders are factored into the remaining production process in the run up to the June deadline.”

More information can be found on the VMD website

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