RUMA launches new Pig Guidelines

The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) is delighted to launch its revised Pig Guidelines on 18 November, European Antibiotic Awareness Day.

RUMA Secretary General, John FitzGerald, launched the new Pig Guidelines at the Promoting Good Veterinary Antimicrobial Stewardship Conference at Liverpool University. Mr FitzGerald said that the new versions of the Pig Antimicrobial Guidelines stressed the need to manage farms to reduce disease challenge and minimise antibiotic use. They include practical advice for vets and farmers and highlight the Four Golden Rules on Disease Control i.e.

  • limit pig to pig contact
  • avoid stress
  • good hygiene
  • good nutrition.

He explained: “First introduced in 2000, these Guidelines are intended as working documents and have been updated periodically to continually provide best advice.

“Now in their 3rd editions, the short version provides quick and easy guiding principles that can be used as a working document by pig farmers, while the longer version is aimed primarily at veterinary surgeons and other advisers, to provide more detail.

“The holistic approach to minimising disease set out by the Four Golden Rules helps reduce the need to use antibiotics without adversely affecting animal welfare. It is important to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance without reducing the availability of necessary antibiotics,” he explained.

Like all RUMA Guidelines, the new Pig Guidelines are available free of charge on the RUMA website


  1. RUMA is an alliance of 23 organisations representing every stage of the “farm to fork” process which aims to promote a co-ordinated and integrated approach to best practice in the use of medicines on farm. A full list of RUMA members is at paragraph 4 below. For further information contact RUMA Secretary General John FitzGerald (
  2. RUMA’s members are:
    • Agricultural Industries Confederation
    • Animal Health Distributors Association
    • Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority
    • BPEX and EBLEX
    • British Egg Industry Council
    • British Poultry Council
    • British Retail Consortium
    • British Veterinary Association
    • City and Guilds
    • DairyCo
    • Dairy UK
    • Game Farmers’ Association
    • LEAF
    • National Beef Association
    • National Farmers’ Union
    • National Office of Animal Health
    • National Pig Association
    • National Sheep Association
    • NFU Scotland
    • Red Tractor Assurance
    • Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers
    • RSPCA
    • Royal Pharmaceutical Society


    • Food Standards Agency
    • Veterinary Medicines Directorate
  3. RUMA Guidelines are regularly reviewed in consultation with RUMA members and specialist groups working in the relevant sector.
  4. The Four Golden Rules on Disease Control are explained below, which is included as a table in the Guidelines

    Disease Control: Four Golden rules

    • Rule 1 Limit pig-to-pig contact. Disease spreads around a farm by pig-to-pig contact. Limit pig-to-pig contact and you will help to limit the prevalence of disease. REMEMBER pig-to-pig contact can also be INDIRECT by a needle, surgical instrument, manure or people. Spread can often be to many pigs in a pen or in large common groups etc.
    • Rule 2 “Stress” is a killer. Stressed animals are far more likely to become diseased. This includes not only obvious physical stress factors e.g. overcrowding, chilling; but also exposure to micro-organisms which cause major stress to the immune system. THINK – If a procedure causes the pigs to become stressed, ask “can this be done in a less stressful manner?”
    • Rule 3 Good Hygiene There is no substitute for good hygiene and biosecurity measures. Cleaning and disinfecting buildings and instruments coupled with good hygiene will all make a difference. Don’t spread disease by needle or other instruments.
    • Rule 4 Good Nutrition Good intakes of colostrum provide essential antibodies to protect piglets as their immune system is developing. Balanced diets with adequate levels of trace elements, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants are essential if the immune system of pigs is to work properly in tackling diseases.