The Pipestone Antibiotic Resistance Tracker (PART) celebrates its fifth birthday this month. Like most things, a lot has changed in that time and we wanted to share a bit about the background, learning and forward vision of this important tool.
In the summer of 2016, we welcomed a national fast-food chain to PIPESTONE to showcase all the actions veterinarians and caretakers employ to care for the pigs we raise. Welfare and antibiotic stewardship were particularly highlighted. One major criticism we received was the inability to easily show use of antibiotics over time in our efforts to actually demonstrate the stewardship we were promoting. Those comments hit HARD, and that month, we got to work developing what would later become PART.
Where We Were
Officially launched in January 2017, PART provided the ability to track antibiotic use in real time. It also allowed producers to breakdown route of treatment (water, feed, injection) and classification of antibiotic, according to the FDA, and anonymously benchmark their use and cost compared to other participants. Best of all, it required almost no continuous input or data entry time from the farmer because, let’s be honest, no one is looking for another data entry task!
Like all things new, we had our initial challenges and technological hiccups. We were slow to roll out to a larger group or share our concept with too many societal groups as we validated, validated and REVALIDATED the numbers! With enough reps, time and validation from third-party leaders, our confidence grew, and has allowed us to use PART as a platform to defend use of antibiotics, albeit more responsibly.
Where We Are
Today, 163 producers representing 7.5M market hogs and 10M weaned pigs utilize PART to responsibly track their antibiotic use. Additionally, PIPESTONE has elevated efforts to track antibiotic resistance, and through Dr. Scott Dee and Dr. Taylor Spronk’s work, are looking at correlation of resistance vs use in an effort to better understand root cause and be able to make changes if livestock use is in fact, impacting human health. Learn more about the IMAGINE project on page 32.
Where We Are Going
Although five years into the process, we are just getting started. Areas of continued focus:
- Growing the number of producers and pigs responsibly tracking use.
- Doubled down efforts on resistance tracking.
- Telling our story. Now that we have the data, we are increasing our efforts to communicate nationally and internationally to influence policy and perception with a goal of keeping antibiotics as a tool in our toolbox to protect and save animal lives long term.
- Packers continue to be more interested in antibiotic use. Our hope is that PART provides an easy opportunity to capture additional value or preference for farmers when negotiating packer contracts.
Five years ago, it would have been hard to predict that a piece of well-placed criticism would shape our forward views, protocols and strategic directives as much as it has. As proven many times over in the history of pork production, we can’t change the direction of the societal wind, but we can adjust our sails to reach our destination… and in this case, faster, and better, while creating more value for the farmers we serve and proving responsibility to the world.
By: Shawnie Veldhuizen Swine Specialist, Pipestone Veterinary Services