12 December 1997

Vaccination programme keeps growth on target

An increase in respiratory

disease at FWs Easton

Lodge pig unit has led to

the implementation of a

vaccination programme and

a change in pig flow with

dramatic results.

Jonathan Riley reports

LUNG lesion scores have been cut from 19.2 to 3.8 following the introduction of an enzootic pneumonia vaccination programme, according to FWs pig unit manager Jasper Renold.

Lung scores indicating the level of respiratory disease on a unit are measured on a scale from 1 to 55.

Last December, scores at Easton Lodge were about 7 and after an economic appraisal it was decided the benefits of an EP vaccination programme would be marginal.

"We decided to monitor scores closely and opted narrowly against vaccinating," says Mr Renold.

But, following a swine flu outbreak, the introduction of Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae and an increase in EP, Marchs lung scores showed lesions had risen to 19.2.

Growth rates fell in the grower/finisher accommodation, from 890g to 520g/head a day in the straw flow house, and from 760g to 520g a day in the double Solari house.

Pigs were finishing at lower weights and deadweights had to be dropped to 67kg to keep pigs within the P2 contract, explains Mr Renold.

While pigs were treated for A pleuropneumoniae with penicillin – rather than a vaccination programme – to allow them to develop their own immunity, the poor performance figures meant an EP vaccination programme would be effective.

"We began the programme by administering the two doses required when pigs entered the flat decks," explains Mr Renold.

But a slight growth check was noticed after treatments which he suspected could be due to the stress of handling at this stage.

"With advice from our vet, we opted to jab pigs at five and 16 days old, while they were still suckling, which limited the stress and eliminated the growth check.

"By August lung scores had fallen to 10.8, while Novembers scores are 3.8 – the lowest level of lung disease recorded at the unit."

Growth rates are now back up to 850g a day and deadweights have be taken back up to 77kg.

However, the disease outbreak has also prompted a reorganisation of pig flow through the unit.

"Previously pigs were moved from flat-decks into either the Solaris or the straw flow house, which meant that the age range in these finishing houses was quite wide.

"Disease could, therefore, pass easily from older pigs to the more vulnerable younger pigs," says Mr Renold.

To reduce the risk, the double Solari house has been designated a first-stage finisher house. All pigs from the flat-decks now enter this house first, before moving to the what is now the second stage finishing accommodation in the straw flow house.

The age difference between the youngest and oldest pigs in a house is now only about five weeks.

This alteration also means that as pigs get older, they move progressively from farrowing houses on the west side of the unit to the final stage finishing house on the eastern edge of the unit.

"This is in line with the prevailing wind and is helping to reduce the spread of disease from older to younger pigs," says Mr Renold.

One consequence of the improved performance is more even batches of pigs, but that is causing marketing difficulties.

"As the vaccine manufacturer claims, when EP has been reduced to such low levels batches of pigs become very even.

"So, one problem that the vaccination programme has left us with, is how to market the large numbers of finishing pigs which are reaching sale weight at the same time.

"This is because our buyer cannot take the numbers we are producing each week and so we are having split groups down into smaller weight categories, marketing the heaviest first," he adds. &#42

EP vaccination coupled with reorganisation of pig flow has lifted growth rates back up to 850g a day at farmers weeklys Easton Lodge pig unit.

Jasper Renold: "We jabbed pigs at five and 16-days-old while they were still suckling which limited stress and eliminated the growth check."

RESPIRATORY DISEASE

Tackle it with:

&#8226 EP vaccination.

&#8226 Better pig flow.

&#8226 Reduced stress.