Farmer Focus: Antibiotic cuts are a big achievement

Well, as they say, all good things come to an end. This is my last Farmer Focus column.

I was only going to write for a couple of years, and it has actually been nearly four years since I started.

I have been amazed how many farming and non-farming people have said how much they have enjoyed my honest and frank opinions on pig farming and current affairs (no one has asked me for my autograph, though, which I can’t understand).

About the author

David Owers
Livestock Farmer Focus writer
Keeping antibiotics use to a minimum is a key aim for David Owers on the 700-sow indoor closed unit he manages in Lincolnshire. He sells half of the progeny as 8kg weaned pigs and rears the rest to bacon weight (105kg). The farm includes horses, cattle, 1,620ha of arable land and an AD unit.
Read more articles by David Owers

See also: UK pig sector cuts antibiotics 5% in 2020

When I first accepted the task to write a monthly column, we were sat in the garden with some friends when I was challenged to a bet that I could not squeeze a very obscure word into one of my columns, which sadly I have never managed to do – so, Joan, I owe you a tenner (I hate losing).

In the next two or three years, I will be retiring from pig farming. All my working life has been spent in the pig industry and I have enjoyed it almost every day.

There are some fantastic characters and wonderful people in the industry who I am privileged to call my friends.  

The great thing about pig farming is you can make things happen rather than waiting for them to happen.

The days I haven’t enjoyed are when you have a serious virus going through the herd over which you have little control.

Fortunately, these have been few, and we have some good vaccines which control most of them.

The little introduction which I gave for my first column was about how I wanted to reduce our antibiotics usage.

We have not only done it, but the whole British pig industry has done the same over the past few years.

Our antibiotics usage is 80% below the national average of 105mg/population corrected unit (PCU), which we are very pleased about and we have not used any critically important antibiotics for more than two years. 

I don’t want to leave you all having sleepless nights about what the mystery word was – it is gongoozling – oops, sorry Joan, you owe me a tenner now! (It means to stand and watch barges and boats from the canal side – to watch things idly).

Good luck and good health.