23 May 1997

…but stock needs

disease protection

WITH breeding companies aiming to improve health status, greater emphasis will be on integrating gilts into herds more carefully.

At a Pig and Poultry Fair seminar, Cambridgeshire-based vet Jake Waddilove told producers that the first step in protecting the incoming gilts and existing stock was to establish the disease profile of the herd.

"This should then be compared with the breeding companys disease profile," he said.

Risk highlight

This would highlight the risk to the herd and gilts, and the herd profile could be arranged through the units vet who would then liaise with the breeding companys vet.

Mr Waddilove suggested that with this knowledge a plan for integrating the gilts should be formulated.

"The basic method is controlled, natural exposure with the new gilts exposed gradually to the herd."

To do this effectively isolation pens, managed on an all-in-all-out basis and cleaned regularly, must be established. "These pens should be sited as far away from the main buildings as possible – even as little as 10 yards is better than no isolation at all," he said.

New gilts should then remain in isolation for at least four weeks.

Total bio-security should be the aim in these pens and stock carers should change overalls and use different feed equipment.

After a week in isolation Mr Waddilove advised that the development of enteric immunity should begin.

"Faeces collected from either the weaner, service or farrowing areas should be placed on the floor of the isolation pen.

"Food placed on top of the faeces will encourage gilts to investigate. This practice should continue twice a week for three weeks.

Isolation pen

"After two to three weeks in the isolation pen development of immunity to respiratory disease can begin with the introduction of a number of pigs from the existing herd," he said.

Cull sows, which have a higher immunity and are, therefore, excreting lower numbers of pathogens should be introduced to the new gilts, first with exposure to younger pigs made at a later date. Only once gilts have recovered fully from disease can they enter the herd safely.