Risk Factors for Antimicrobial Use on Irish Pig Farms

Lorcan O'Neill, Julia Adriana Calderón Díaz, Maria Rodrigues da Costa, Sinnead Oakes, Finola Leonard, Edgar García Manzanilla

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The threat to public health posed by antimicrobial resistance in livestock production means that the pig sector is a particular focus for efforts to reduce antimicrobial use (AMU). This study sought to investigate the risk factors for AMU in Irish pig production. Antimicrobial use data were collected from 52 farrow-to-finish farms. The risk factors investigated were farm characteristics and performance, biosecurity practices, prevalence of pluck lesions at slaughter and serological status for four common respiratory pathogens and vaccination and prophylactic AMU practices. Linear regression models were used for quantitative AMU analysis and risk factors for specific AMU practices were investigated using logistic regression. Farms that milled their own feed had lower total AMU (p < 0.001), whereas higher finisher mortality (p = 0.043) and vaccinating for swine influenza (p < 0.001) increased AMU. Farms with higher prevalence of pericarditis (p = 0.037) and lung abscesses (p = 0.046) used more group treatments. Farms with higher prevalence of liver milk spot lesions (p = 0.018) and farms practising prophylactic AMU in piglets (p = 0.03) had higher numbers of individual treatments. Farms practising prophylactic AMU in piglets (p = 0.002) or sows (p = 0.062) had higher use of cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones. This study identified prophylactic use and respiratory disease as the main drivers for AMU in Irish pig production. These findings highlight areas of farm management where interventions may aid in reducing AMU on Irish pig farms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2828
Issue number10
Early online date28 Sept 2021
Publication statusFirst published - 28 Sept 2021


  • antimicrobial use
  • biosecurity
  • Ireland
  • pigs
  • Respiratory disease
  • risk factors


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