16 January 1998

Sickly piglets a disease risk

PIG producers must face the reality that sickly or weak weaners are a disease risk to healthy stock and a drain on profits.

At the MLCs Stotfold pig unit sickly and weak piglets are side-streamed at weaning to a nursery unit, says unit manager Dr Paul Blanchard. They receive individual attention, make a faster recovery, but never rejoin the mainstream as they remain a disease risk.

"These pigs will not make money; at best they may break even. Syphoning them off cuts disease risk, saving medical costs and allowing producers to concentrate on pigs that can make money."

Piglets make a good recovery after nursery treatment with some of the cost being offset against reduced disease in other pigs. Without it, they could take up to 300 days to finish to 90kg, with implications for meat tenderness.

One other option, according to Dr Blanchard, could be the sale of sickly or weak weaners off the unit which may at least generate some return.

&#8226 More on MLC research, p40.