Study looks into antimicrobial use in swine herds


Study looks into antimicrobial use in swine herds

New research published by the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine assesses antimicrobial use in swine herds.

Lead researcher Peter Davies tells Brownfield the Food and Drug Administration initiated the study with support from the National Pork Board to get a closer look at food animal production.

“There are a lot of concerns because this is a very sensitive area politically, so people were rightfully concerned about how the data would be used, the confidentiality, those sorts of things. So we went through a process so that people could confidently (and) anonymously share their data, and really aggregate it.”

One of the key findings is that antibiotics categorized as critically important in human medicine comprise only five percent of what’s being used in the swine industry.

But Davies says the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

“We want to look at them going forward, but the most important thing is to review practices (to) make sure that antimicrobials are being used as little as possible, but as much as necessary. Rather than focusing on things like ‘we’ve got to reduce, we’ve got to reduce.”

He says individual veterinarians need to prescribe antimicrobials based on the best information available instead of simply striving for artificial benchmarks.

Davies plans to expand the research project to include larger swine production systems.