Pig Sector in Focus: Red Tractor shares details about its standards in relation to responsible antibiotic use in the Pig Sector

Emma Bailey Beech from Red Tractor (RT) shares details about RT standards in relation to responsible antibiotic use in the Pig Sector.

Emma says: “The purpose of Red Tractor is to reassure consumers that food carrying the logo is safe, traceable and farmed with care. Responsible use of medicines on Red Tractor farms is therefore of key importance to us so we can deliver on our promise to consumers.

“Through our Pig Standards, Red Tractor aims to support the responsible use of medicines on members’ pig farms. The standards were reviewed in 2021 and a notable addition was a new requirement that at least one person on the farm must undertake an approved course in responsible use of medicines.

“Since 2017, Red Tractor has required all pig units within the scheme to submit their antibiotic usage data on a quarterly basis to eMB-Pigs, the industry’s national database. This valuable data enables the UK pig sector to track its usage of antibiotics and evidence progress against the RUMA Targets Task Force reduction targets. As 95% of pigs come from Red Tractor assured farms, the coverage of the data set is substantial, giving an accurate representation of antibiotic use in the pig sector.

“Where a Red Tractor pig farm is identified as persistently using high amounts of antibiotics (PHUs), they are required to develop and implement an action plan with their vet to reduce their antibiotic use.

“For many years Red Tractor has aligned with the responsible use principle of only using HP-CIAs as a last resort. They can only be used on Red Tractor pig farms where supported by a written statement from the vet outlining the justification for use, including sensitivity testing and/or diagnostics.”

As part of a farm’s Red Tractor assessment, the assessor will check that medicine records are being kept up to date and that withdrawal periods are being met so as to minimise the risk of residues entering the food chain.

Emma continues: “Every Red Tractor pig farm must be visited by a vet at least four times a year. Each farm also has a Veterinary Health Plan which is reviewed with the vet during every visit to ensure that pig health is being managed proactively, with any necessary treatments being prescribed with antimicrobial stewardship in mind.”

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