12 May 2000

Pig blue ear costs dear

CLAIMS that blue ear disease costs more than £7/finisher pig to infected units were made by Intervet this week, as it launched the UKs first vaccine against the disease at the Pig and Poultry Fair.

Prior to the launch, the company conducted trials on 20,000 grower pigs in a blue ear infected herd on the Continent, according to its pig business development manager John Richardson.

"Half the pigs on trial were vaccinated and the remaining half were left untreated. Physical performance improvements in vaccinated pigs were worth more than £7/pig," said Mr Richardson.

Breaking the figure down, improved growth rate and feed conversion efficiency are said to be worth £2.75/pig each and lower mortality £1.60/pig.

Vaccines against blue ear have been available for some years in the US and Denmark, but Porcilis PRRS is the first vaccine to be available to UK producers, explained Mr Richardson.

"Although the diseases spread varies geographically, about 85% of herds are infected. It is mostly operating at a sub-clinical level, infecting the pigs lungs which are its first line of defence against other diseases."

The vaccine is licensed for use in grower/finisher pigs and is administered by a single injection at six-weeks-old. It will be available through vets at a cost of about £1-£1.20/pig.

added Mr Richardson.