Responsible antibiotics use in swine production

Posted on March 24, 2015 in Swine Performance
By Dr. Leah Gesing

Swine producers use antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of disease, as well as positive impacts on growth promotion and feed efficiency.

In the U.S. swine industry, most antibiotics are administered via feed and, according to 2012 sales data, most antibiotic use was for production and/or therapeutic purposes. These uses have not historically required a prescription from a veterinarian.  However, in recent years, U.S. regulatory agencies have taken a stronger look at the use of antibiotics in both humans and animals amid concerns about the development of antibiotic resistance by bacteria.

What are the proposed changes?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates animal and human antibiotics, has issued FDA Guidance for Industry #209 and #213. These documents are the FDA’s guidelines on the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals and they will take full effect at the end of 2016.

Use of antibiotics for growth promotion and feed efficiency
It is the FDA’s position that the use of antibiotics for disease treatment, control, and prevention is necessary for animal health and welfare. However, the use of antibiotics for growth promotion or improvement is termed “injudicious.”  Therefore, under these guidelines, producers will no longer be able to use antibiotics for growth promotion and feed efficiency.

Use of antibiotics for disease treatment, control and prevention
The FDA has defined a list of “medically important” antibiotics, defined as antibiotics that are used in human medicine or that are in the same class as antibiotics used in human medicine. Most antibiotics approved for use in swine fall under this category (notable exceptions are bacitracin (BMD® and Albac®), carbadox (Mecadox®), narasin (Skycis®), bambermycin (Flavomycin®) and tiamulin (Denegard®)).

Producers will continue to be allowed to use antibiotics classified as “medically important” for disease treatment, control and prevention.  However, “over-the-counter” use of those antibiotics will not be allowed.  Use of these antibiotics in water will require a prescription and use in feed will require a veterinary feed directive (VFD).  VFDs will be required to list the premises, date (the prescription can expire no more than six months after the initial VFD is completed), drug name, indications, dose, duration, approximate number of animals to be treated, and a signature (may be electronically completed but cannot be done over the phone). Finally, records must be kept for a minimum of one year by the veterinarian, feed mill and producer. (Note: These requirements are subject to change prior to final implementation.)

How will this change what Vita Plus does?
At this time, Vita Plus plans to continue offering all existing product lines.  We will adhere to all future guidelines outlined in the FDA Guidance for Industry #209 and #213, including the requirement of a VFD for all applicable antibiotics under these new guidelines.

What can you do?
Continue to practice the judicious use of antibiotics within your system, including good documentation of antibiotic usage. Additionally, maintain a good working relationship with your veterinarian. Finally, be proactive in asking questions of your veterinarian and your Vita Plus representative to best prepare yourself for upcoming changes impacting antibiotic use in swine.

About the author:  Dr. Leah Gesing is a Vita Plus swine technical sales and support specialist.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science from Iowa State University.  She continued there to earn her master’s degree in animal physiology, studying on-farm factors affecting market hog transport losses.  She then went on to the University of Illinois to earn her Ph.D. in animal sciences.  While in school, Gesing was involved with numerous research projects, teaching experiences, internships, and international travel.  Specifically, she conducted applied research in swine genetics, health, management and reproduction with Dr. Mike Ellis.  Her Ph.D. project evaluated the effect of timing of OvuGel® administration on reproductive performance in gilts synchronized for estrus.

Category: Feed ingredients
Swine Performance
Veterinary Feed Directive