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Research article2017Peer reviewedOpen access

Herd-specific interventions to reduce antimicrobial usage in pig production without jeopardising technical and economic performance

Collineau, L.; Rojo-Gimeno, C.; Leger, A.; Backhans, A.; Loesken, S.; Nielsen, E. Okholm; Postma, M.; Emanuelson, U.; Beilage, E. Grosse; Sjolund, M.; Wauters, E.; Stark, K. D.; Dewulf, J.; Belloc, C.; Krebs, S.


Pig farmers are strongly encouraged to reduce their antimicrobial usage in order to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance. Herd-level intervention is needed to achieve national and European reduction targets. Alternative, especially preventive measures, have to be implemented to reduce the need for antimicrobial treatments. However, little is known about the feasibility, effectiveness and return on investment of such measures. The objective of this study was to assess, across four countries, the technical and economic impact of herd-specific interventions aiming at reducing antimicrobial usage in pig production while implementing alternative measures.An intervention study was conducted between February 2014 and August 2015 in 70 farrow-to-finish pig farms located in Belgium, France, Germany and Sweden. Herd-specific interventions were defined together with the farmer and the herd veterinarian. Farms were followed over one year and their antimicrobial usage and technical performance were compared with values from the year before intervention. Compliance with the intervention plan was also monitored. Changes in margin over feed cost and net farm profit were estimated in a subset of 33 Belgian and French farms with sufficient data, using deterministic and stochastic modeling.Following interventions, a substantial reduction in antimicrobial use was achieved without negative impact the overall farm technical performance. A median reduction of 47.0% of antimicrobial usage was achieved across four countries when expressed in terms of treatment incidence from birth to slaughter, corresponding to a 30.5% median reduction of antimicrobial expenditures. Farm compliance with intervention plans was high (median: 93%; min-max: 20; 100) and farms with higher compliance tended to achieve bigger reduction (rho = -0.18, p = 0.162). No association was found between achieved reduction and type or number of alternative measures implemented. Mortality in suckling piglets, weaners and fatteners, daily weight gain and feed conversion ratio did not significantly change over the course of the study, while the number of weaned piglets per sow per year slightly increased. The median change in net farm profit among Belgian and French farms was estimated to be (sic)4.46 (Q25-Q75:-32.54; 80.50) and (sic)1.23 (Q25-Q75:-32.55; 74.45) per sow per year using the detererministic and stochastic models, respectively. It was more influenced by a change in feed conversion ratio and daily weight gain than by a change in antimicrobial expenditures or intervention direct net cost. Therefore, costs of alternative measures should not be perceived as a barrier, but rather as an opportunity to optimise production practices for sustained productivity and improved animal health. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Antibiotics; Preventive measures; Compliance; Technical performance; Margin over feed cost; Net farm profit

Published in

Preventive Veterinary Medicine
2017, Volume: 144, pages: 167-178

      SLU Authors

      • Associated SLU-program

        AMR: Bacteria

        Sustainable Development Goals

        SDG3 Good health and well-being

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Other Veterinary Science

        Publication identifier


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