Antibiotics are used to treat sick pigs and must be prescribed by a veterinarian. In Denmark, the use of antibiotics is supervised carefully in the VETSTAT register. Statistics indicate that the use of antibiotics for pigs has decreased over the past 20 years – even if the production of pigs has increased.

Antibiotics are used to treat sick animals. In Denmark, it is forbidden to treat as a preventive measure but if disease has occurred in a group of animals and the infection is spreading from animal to animal, it is permitted to treat the entire group.

Antibiotics must only be used after recommendation from a veterinarian and only for the diseases and the groups of animals described by the veterinarian.

The use of antibiotics is registered in VETSTAT

The use of antibiotics per pig population and group of animals is in Denmark registered in VETSTAT. VETSTAT enables the keeping of statistics of the use per species of animal, age group and diagnosis group. The information in VETSTAT is used to supervise the use of antibiotics in the Danish pig population.The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration has defined a limit for a so-called "Yellow Card". Pig populations that exceed this limit are ordered to reduce the use and can also be ordered to implement other limitations for use and production.

A consistent effort to reduce the use of antibiotics

The use of antibiotics for pigs in Denmark is low seen from an international point of view and has moreover decreased over the past 20 years.

The use of critically important antibiotics for humans, such as cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones, is strictly limited and the use for pigs is in principle non-existing. However, the situation is different in most of the other European countries. This is also reflected in the low level of resistance to these important antibiotics in bacteria from Danish pigs.

Each year, approx. 20,000 samples from pigs are tested for antibiotic residues. Residues are found in between 0 and 3 samples each year. This is far below what is found in many other countries.

For many years, Denmark has been committed to reducing the use of antibiotics in livestock production. In fact, Denmark is one of the countries in the world whose antibiotic consumption in pig production is among the lowest.

Read more about the Danish development here.

The use of antibiotics in livestock

22 years of targeted initiatives from in particular pig breeders has yielded good results. The total use of antibiotics in 2017 was 49 per cent lower than in 1994. The reason for this success is a combination of legislation, meticulous control and wide support from pig breeders.

Relevant links:

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration
The use of antibiotics in livestock
The EU singles out the Danish antibiotics effort
The use of antibiotics at record low level in Denmark
Danish pigs get less antibiotics
New stricter antibiotics rules