AASV: Antibiotic Use in the Australian Swine Industry

ANALYSIS - Dr. Chris Richards, practicing swine veterinarian with Apiam Animal Health based in Australia, spoke to veterinarians at the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) conference, offering an Australian experience on antibiotic usage.
calendar icon 16 March 2016
clock icon 3 minute read

"Antibiotic usage globally is certainly under pressure, and I think every country and every veterinarian is certainly assessing how we use antibiotics, taking into consideration some of the external factors that are putting pressure on our industries around the use of antibiotics," Dr. Richards said.

In his presentation to veterinarians, he noted that Australia is a fairly clean country in terms of diseases on the global stage, however they still have challenges from several bacterial pathogens that require antibiotics. Vaccination is common, but in many cases, producers are using a combination of vaccines and antibiotics.

He also focused on prudent antibiotic use and that use is a privilege rather than a right.

"We need to make sure that we're very compliant in terms of making sure that we're only using it when absolutely necessary, that we're selecting the right antibiotics for the right pathogens, and that we're diagnosing individual sick animals and treating individual sick animals rather than having a mass medication policy," Dr. Richards said.

He also noted the value of medication use record-keeping to track the effectiveness of treatments, as well as some training programs that Australia has implemented to ensure antibiotic stewardship.

Australia is using a relatively new program called iVET.

"It's a cloud-based system, where vets are determining the veterinarian plan on-farm and that's entered into a cloud based system. The farmer then is using that system to help in choosing the right product to use for the right clinical signs and the right disease," he said. "A vet can then login, review what clinical signs are happening on farm, review what medications are being used and look at efficacy of treatment. All with the aim of reducing the amount of antibiotic usage by identifying more quickly what does diseases are happening on farm and responding to those outbreaks."

Improving communication between what's happening on-farm and what the veterinarian is thinking has resulted in more successful outcomes for the pigs, he said.

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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