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Review: Water medication of growing pigs: sources of between-animal variability in systemic exposure to antimicrobials

  • S. B. Little (a1), H. K. Crabb (a1), A. P. Woodward (a2), G. F. Browning (a1) and H. Billman-Jacobe (a1)...


On many Australian commercial pig farms, groups of growing pigs are mass-medicated through their drinking water with selected antimicrobials for short periods to manage herd health. However, delivery of medication in drinking water cannot be assumed to deliver an equal dose to all animals in a group. There is substantial between-animal variability in systemic exposure to an antimicrobial (i.e. the antimicrobial concentration in plasma), resulting in under-dosing or over-dosing of many pigs. Three sources of this between-animal variability during a water medication dosing event are differences in: (1) concentration of the active constituent of the antimicrobial product in water available to pigs at drinking appliances in each pen over time, (2) medicated water consumption patterns of pigs in each pen over time, and (3) pharmacokinetics (i.e. oral bioavailability, volume of distribution and clearance between pigs and within pigs over time). It is essential that factors operating on each farm that influence the range of systemic exposures of pigs to an antimicrobial are factored into antimicrobial administration regimens to reduce under-dosing and over-dosing.


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