On-Farm Antibiotic Use

America’s pig farmers work closely with veterinarians to ensure that their pigs stay healthy. However, at times pigs need medical attention, which may require the use of antibiotics to treat illness. Responsible antibiotic use means using only what’s necessary for pig health. This sensible approach means doing what’s best for food safety, animal well-being and the environment or in other words…People, Pigs and Planet. To see what responsible antibiotic use means on a pig farm download this infographic.

Though pig farmers rely on antibiotics to keep their herds healthy, they also use a variety of tools to keep their pigs happy and healthy, including veterinary care, good nutrition, proper and comfortable housing and individual attention and care.


Making the decision to use antibiotics

Decisions to use antibiotics are unique to each farm and require the involvement of both farmers and veterinarians. Antibiotics are used by veterinarians and farmers to quickly address disease and keep animals healthy and thriving. Accordingly, responsible use of animal health products is a key concern for all farm employees.

It is important to maintain these approved uses of antibiotics to give farmers and veterinarians the ability to address animal health issues. Using disease-prevention strategies, in addition to treating or controlling disease, is essential for animal health and well-being because it’s better to prevent, rather than treat, disease that can lead to unnecessary illness, suffering and mortality.

Farmers may choose to use antibiotics, but only when needed and under the direction of a veterinarian. When they do use antibiotics, they must follow ethical and legal requirements to do so according to label and dosing instructions approved by the FDA. Furthermore, farmers can treat individual animals with antibiotics by injection, while groups of animals usually receive antibiotics through feed or drinking water. Farmers and their veterinarians use their experience and knowledge in combination with scientific information to decide when a health strategy with antibiotics is necessary.

Pig farmers have a natural incentive to take preventive health measures to avoid the time, labor and expense necessary for administering antibiotics to their herds. Farmers want to provide such health products only when pigs are most susceptible to illness or when they are sick. Therefore, decision making is based on the following guidelines, which are outlined in the industry’s leading training and certification program, Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®).

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