NPA responds to calls for ban on preventative antibiotics
A pig unit in Bedford recently opened its gates to a group of high-profile medics to address concerns about antibiotic use in the sector.
Bedfordia farm’s pig unit is home to some 1,000 breeding sows located on two breeding farms - Arnoe Farm and Highfields farm.
The visit was organised by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) alliance and the National Pig Association (NPA) in response to a letter signed by notable people from the medical profession last year.
The letter directed to the health and defra secretaries of state called for an immediate ‘UK-wide ban on the routine preventative mass medication of animals’. The NPA says the invite to see how pig farming works in practice was a ‘chance to set the record straight’.
"We took them to a large commercial high hygiene unit and while this would be exactly the type of set-up that the ASOA (Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics) would seek to portray as high antibiotic users (indoor fully slatted weaners and finishers),” commented NPA chief executive Zoe Davies. “It was absolutely spotless, very impressively run and a huge credit to the staff.”
RUMA chair Gwyn Jones said that engaging with the medical VIPs was a ‘wholly positive experience’. The visit took the group - which included Dame Sally Davies - through farrowing to weaning, service and pregnant sows.
The visitors were shown around the family farming business’ newer housing and gadgets. They also saw farrowing crates, older buildings with ACNV systems, and groups of squealing, pregnant sows jostling over automatic feeders.
According to the NPA, Bedfordia farm’s pig unit is a below-average user of antibiotics and has managed to reduce antibiotic use by 80 per cent since 2015. The unit is representative of many pig farms today: a range of new and old technologies, varying infrastructure and its own particular challenges, it adds.