16 January 1998

Jab fights pig mange

PIG producers can now achieve longer-term control of mange with an anti-parasitic offering savings of £52-£72 a sow a year, but better unit hygiene must be a long-term measure to eradicate the disease.

Vet David Hallas, of Pfizer, warns that 70% of the UK pig herd is infected with mange. Early signs of the disease often go unnoticed and can reduce liveweight gain.

"Typical losses can be 0.6 piglets weaned a litter, up to 5.79kg lower finishing weights, and up to 12.5% higher feed conversion," warns Mr Hallas.

Dectomax for pigs offers 18 days protection, whereas the incubation period for mites is three to 10 days, so breaking the life cycle.

Producers could eradicate the pest from their unit by injecting sows well before farrowing, reducing stress while still giving mange protection to piglets.

It has a 49-day withdrawal period before slaughter and protects against gastro-intestinal roundworms. Treatment costs about £3 a sow.

Mr Hallas agrees improved hygiene on many UK units would help control mange. Isolating infected pigs and culling chronically affected stock are practical steps, as one infected animal can reinfect a whole herd in a matter of weeks, he warns.