Greg Wideman from South West Ontario Veterinary Services, AMU Reduction : Tailor Fitting The Plan


The efforts to reduce antimicrobial usage (AMU) in pig production are continuing. Reducing AMU at an individual herd level may not work best with a “one size fits all”  approach to interventions. Interventions need to be custom fit to specific farm conditions and priorities. These European researchers wanted to assess the effectiveness of alternatives to reduce AMU at herd level. In a prospective study, 68 farrow-to-finish pig herds located in Belgium, France, Germany and Sweden were recruited on a voluntary basis and worked with advisors to implement tailor-made intervention plans to reduce their AMU.

Alternative AMU reduction measures included improvement of biosecurity (n = 29 herds), vaccination (n = 30), changes of feeding schemes or drinking water quality (n = 45), improved pig health and welfare care (n = 21) as well as changes in environmental control in the pig farm and  animal husbandry measures (n = 14). Herds were followed for 1 year after implementation of herd specific intervention measures. Annual antimicrobial expenditures or treatment records, as well as disease incidence scores were collected and compared to those of the year before intervention. AMU was measured as the treatment incidence and calculated by age category, antimicrobial class and administration route.

The researchers found the following:

  • Compliance with the intervention plans was high (median 93%). ( Volunteers?)
  • AMU was significantly reduced in the median herd of the four countries
    • Pig treatment before intervention was 25% of expected lifespan (200 days from birth to slaughter) and this was reduced to 16%.
    • AMU of suckling pigs was significantly reduced by 37 %
    • AMU of weaned pigs was significantly reduced by 54%
    • AMU via feed and water, was significantly reduced by 46 %
    • AMU via parenteral routes of administration was significantly reduced by 36%
    • The majority of disease incidence were similar before and after intervention, with a few exceptions related to the gastro-intestinal tract disease in suckling pigs (decreased) and in breeding pigs (increased).

Take Home Message:

  • This study design was not without challenges
    • the package of interventions was not the same between herds
    • each herd acted as it’s own control with a before vs after longitudinal approach
    • herd participants were volunteers and may have been more motivated to succeed
  • Despite the limitations of this type of study it appears that implementation of tailor-made interventions resulted in a substantial reduction of AMU in pig production across four European countries without jeopardizing animal health or welfare.

Ref: Raasch S, Collineau L, Postma M, Backhans A, Sjölund M Belloc C, Emanuelson U, Beilage EG, Stärk K, Dewulf J; on the behalf of the MINAPIG Consortium.  Effectiveness of alternative measures to reduce antimicrobial usage in pig production in four European countries.   Porcine Health Manag. 2020 Mar 2;6:6. doi: 10.1186/s40813-020-0145-6. eCollection 2020.



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