FARMER FOCUS: Meeting reveals pig health issues

The weather in the second half of April improved with wind and no rain, allowing us to get spring barley sown in good conditions.

We also sowed 24ha of oats on purchased land, which is very low in lime. Some heat now will help the crops catch up, although looking out the window tonight it is dull, wet and cold, but I must look on the bright side. Tomorrow could be hot and sunny, and by the time you read this they may be flourishing.

Our third Monitor Farm meeting was last week. There was a good turnout of pig farmers and vets. The main topic of the meeting was pig health on our unit and in the wider community.

David Strachan, a vet with Boehringer Ingelheim, spoke about the health of the Scottish pig herd, which is recorded through the Wholesome Pig Programme, and also went through the blood tests we had taken.

They were testing for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, actinobacillus pleuropneumonia, and enzootic pneumonia (EP).

 Unfortunately, they all came back positive, although we see no clinical signs and vaccinate for EP.

These positive results, will however, be holding the pigs back and hit feed intake, growth and feed conversion rates.

Jill Thomson, of SAC Veterinary Services, also spoke and gave us an update of world threats to UK pig health – the movement of classical swine fever being our biggest worry.

The outcomes from the meeting were for us to think about a possible partial de-population, a blue ear vaccination programme, and how we could improve ventilation in our weaner accommodation with the use of more monitoring equipment for humidity, temperature and ammonia levels. If we can get on top of all these, we might eventually make some cash.

Danny Skinner farms 440 sows selling finished pigs through Scottish Pig Producers. He runs 125ha at home and rents a further 50ha, growing cereals for home mixing.

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