5 September 1997

GOOD MANAGEMENT CAN GUARD AGAINST DISEASE

SOME key factors causing respiratory disease, digestive disorders and lameness in pigs can be reduced by management, according to East Yorks vet, John Carr.

Factors include farm security, pig flow, the pigs environment, and disease prevention strategies .

He warns that swine flu is a primary concern and farm security must be tight to prevent this and other diseases reaching pigs.

"Swine influenza has many variants and it is likely new ones will appear. It is imperative, therefore, that an effective isolation and introduction strategy for gilts and replacement boars is devised with veterinary advice," says Dr Carr.

A well designed flow of pigs is central to cutting disease. "All-in, all-out strategies implemented on farms have resulted in 70% reductions in medicine use, a reduction in post-weaning mortality from 10% down to 5% and a reduction in days to finish from 180 to 150 days. This saves about £6/pig."

However, all-in, all-out systems often lead to a greater variation in sale weights, he says.

"Batch farrowing is a possible benefit here. Farrowing once every three weeks, rather than the traditional one week batch system results in larger batches moving through the farm.

"This allows a three-week period to sell animals within a batch, so reducing some slaughter weight variation but allowing for all-in/all-out. Whilst this is an old idea, it has an exciting future."

He believes that disease recognition and effective control is a team effort involving all of the health team on a farm.

This means from the most important – the stock person caring for the pigs – through the farm management staff and veterinary surgeon to the nutritionists and management consultants. &#42

Left: To reduce disease East Yorks vet John Carr urges producers to improve farm security, pig flow and medicine storage.

Environment checklist

&#8226 Check water flow through drinkers is adequate and that water is clean with drinkers set at the right height for the pigs age.

&#8226 Feed hoppers must have all control slides set appropriately, with no feed wastage. Feed must be free running, mould free and all feed bins must be clean.

&#8226 Floors must be examined for damage and all slats secure. Walls must be checked for projections at pig height and cleaned regularly with effective pressure washing. Bedding must be clean and as this years wet harvest is likely to cause mouldy bedding checked for mould and dust.

&#8226 Air temperatures and humidity must be within acceptable levels and draughts – a major killer of pigs – eliminated. Ammonia and other gas concentrations must be under control and all ventilation inlets and outlets should be functioning appropriately.

&#8226 Ensure stocking is correct with the right pig in the right building at the right time. For example a 6kg, 16 day old weaner may still have problems post-weaning even though he is big enough.