Most producers should hopefully be aware of the introduction of a new Red Tractor Standard in October 2014 requiring the collation and review (by Vet and Farmer) of all antibiotics used on farm. The new standard will be audited by certification body inspectors as of October 2015 so we all need to be prepared for this to prevent issuing of unnecessary non-conformance notices. We have been working closely with NPA AIG to develop a standardised report template which the major feed compounders have now proactively adopted. This is crucial as over 80% of the antibiotics that we use in pigs are actually delivered in feed. It is planned that the first medicated feed reports will be issued to producers in July covering the 12 months to June 30th. Thereafter reports will be issued 6 monthly so as to provide more up-to-date data. These reports must then be collated together with reports of antibiotics supplied by other routes - in most cases our veterinary practice pharmacy - so that total use can be reviewed. At GVG we will be using a collation tool created by vet David Burch from Octagon Services (available free from the BPEX website) which provides additional useful tools, such as splitting out use of "Critical use" antibiotics, and produces a summarised figure in terms of mg of antibiotic /kg liveweight and deadweight which can then be used for comparison purposes. Data production and review will remain a confidential matter between vets and producers, all that certification body inspectors will expect to see is some form of confirmation that the annual collation and review has occurred within the last 12 months.
The political battles regarding the use of antibiotics in agriculture continue apace and I believe we should all embrace these reviews as a step forward in terms of us being able to demonstrate that we are using antibiotics responsibly, rather than just saying that we are. We are keen to help with any issues arising - please just ask your vet.
The threat our industry faces from increasing feral wild boar populations was brought home to me during a presentation by Peter Watson from the Deer Initiative at a recent NPA meeting. Established wild boar populations now exist in at least 3 areas of the country : Forest of Dean, New Forest and Sussex. The population in the FOD is of the most concern as it appears to be increasing exponentially year on year. At present the population is estimated to be ~1000 but with the current minimal population control this is expected to be over 6000 within the next 3 years. Boar from the Forest are already reported to be ranging as far as Newport in South Wales, Ledbury in Herefordshire, and recently Wiltshire.
A couple of years ago AHVLA (as they were then) conducted some extensive disease testing of culled wild boar in the Forest which, at that time, failed to show up significant infection by major pig pathogens (such as PRRS, Swine Dysentery etc.) but some evidence of Leptospiral infection was noted. We are all very concerned that as the population increases, the potential for wild boar to become infected with, and act as vectors for, major pig pathogens will increase considerably. We also hear regular reports from Eastern Europe of ASF in wild boar and the problems these countries face in trying to tackle this devastating disease. It would be great if we could all play our part by reporting wild boar sightings on line at: http://www.wild-boar.org.uk/report_a_sighting
PED and ASF remain very real threats. We have all been involved with biosecurity reviews on various units and some common issues in these discussions have included:-
1. PIG LORRY DRIVERS. Do they venture from the designated area at the top of the loading ramp? or even further into the unit? Do unit staff go onto the lorry? They shouldn't!!
2. STAFF CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR. Do all staff wear designated unit clothing and footwear which they put on as they arrive at work, and take off before leaving work? They should!!
3. DEADSTOCK REMOVAL. If bins are removed via a collection service, are they stored and picked up from a site well away from any pig areas of the farm. They should be!!
4. SIGNAGE. Is farm signage up-to-date with clear instructions detailing biosecurity and contact details so as to reduce delivery drivers coming straight into the middle of the unit? It should be!!
I could go on as there are lots more but if you are at all interested in a biosecurity review, please speak to one of the vets.
Pigs have as much right to pain relief as humans or any other species. Recovery rates and treatment efficacy can be significantly improved by giving pain relief as well as antibiotics for all sorts of painful conditions, including meningitis, tail bites, lameness, prolapse, difficult farrowings, pneumonia, and mastitis. There are now several licensed products available for pigs including Metacam, Allevenix and Ketofen - speak to your vet for more specific advice. Most farmers who give it a go comment on the noticeable difference it makes - give it a try!
We are all excited that Victoria Duggan has joined the veterinary team and we all hope you will extend her the usual warm welcome over the coming weeks and months.