19 June 1998

Coccidiodis alert in outdoor pigs

COCCIDIOSIS outbreaks could increase on outdoor units in wet weather many cases may have been misdiagnosed as scour in the past, warn vets.

Normally seen in piglets between 10-14 days old, coccidiosis appears as common scour, says Hull-based pig vet Mark White. However, the only way to confirm coccidiosis accurately is to send a piglet for analysis at a MAFF veterinary investigation centre.

Coccidiosis is more serious than milk scour and can account for a piglet mortality rate of 10%. "Typically, it results in variation of up to a kilo in weaning weights from 5.5-6.5kgs," he adds.

Although unlicensed, piglets can be treated with Baycox (toltrazuril), says Yorks-based vet John Carr, but only in consultation with a vet. Better hygiene and avoiding wallows in farrowing paddocks will reduce risks, he says.

"Arks should be positioned so theyre well ventilated with bottoms earthed up and bedding spread evenly inside to avoid drafts," adds Mr Carr. If a serious outbreaks occurs, arks should be power washed, disinfected and even lime washed in between farrowing. Equipment such as teeth clipper and syringes must be disinfected and/or disposed of between piglet groups, he adds.

Oxon-based pig vet, Richard Potter, urges producers not to use wallows in farrowing paddocks as they harbour the ooycyst responsible for the disease – commonly found on faeces.

However, Bury-based vet Jake Waddilove, suggests that whilst coccidiosis is seen in outdoor herds, its still most common in intensive indoor systems. Moving arks around the farrowing paddock and changing the paddock at least every two years are essential to control build up of the disease, he warns.