NADIS disease forecast – pigs (December)

NADIS is a network of 40 veterinary practices and six veterinary colleges monitoring diseases in cattle sheep and pigs in the UK.

NADIS data can highlight potential livestock disease and parasite incidence before they peak, providing a valuable early warning for the month ahead.

NADIS disease forecasts are written specifically for farmers, to increase awareness of prevalent conditions and promote disease prevention and control, in order to benefit animal health and welfare. The forecasts are based on national trends and farmers are advised to discuss their individual farm circumstances with their veterinary surgeon.

December 2004

By Mark White BVSc DPM MRCVS


NADIS Pig Disease Forecast

Deadstock Collection Scheme – Good or Bad?

The Government‘s offer of £10 million to the livestock industry to assist in financing the disposal of deadstock (following the ban on on-farm burial) on the face of it is highly attractive. 

However, there is growing concern that the money will simply disappear into the black hole of bureaucracy and inefficiency.

The Deadstock Disposal Scheme has had a very long gestation and is in danger of being stillborn.

As an example, producers who use knackermen now tend to be charged either on a total weight collection basis or on a headage basis, dependent on weight of pig. 

Typical weight levels are up to 30kg, 30-70kg, 70 – 100kg etc. Under the terms of the Scheme tender, knackermen have been required to quote from the cost of collecting a pig up to 100kg i.e. the price differentials have disappeared. 

Not surprisingly, knackermen have quoted close to the price for the heavier pig, which means that the overall bill will rise. Remove the subsidy payment and the risk is that the final charge to the farm will end up where it is now. 

In essence, this means that the money provided to assist the scheme will disappear in administration costs and in increased revenue to the rendering industry. If this is what happens, it would not be surprising if many in the pig industry shunned the system and maintained private collection arrangements with the knackerman. 

As an adjunct to these comments, DEFRA have started to inspect on farm incineration and many producers are being faced with a prospect of having to pay out several thousand pounds to bring their machines up to the required standards with after-burners etc.

Disposal of waste is a major cost for most manufacturing industries. In recent years, the livestock sector has seen its costs rise dramatically and there seems little prospect of any material reduction.

Health Reports

Not surprisingly in an autumn that has followed a generally poor summer, seasonal infertility has been common. Abortions and delayed returns (associated with embryonic death) – particularly in young sows – have been typical of reports. 

In addition, low litter size can be traced back to the brief hot weather in early summer when these sows were served.

Parvovirus has been diagnosed in one herd with high mummification rates and low fertility in the absence of a correct vaccination policy.

Fly bite lesions have been seen well into October, suggesting some changes in behaviour in insects this year.

Use of a third breed as a sire for slaughter generation pigs (Hampshire onto Large White/Landrace cross females) has had a dramatic effect on mortality of the growing herd – reducing losses from 6% to 1.5%.

As is usually the case, enteric and respiratory ailments predominate. Whilst Ileitis (PIA) has been diagnosed on a number of units, grower scours/colitis is very widespread where copper levels in feed are now much reduced; many finishing pigs do not receive antibiotic growth promotion either and the combined effects can be as much as an 80g per day penalty in growth. Rectal prolapses have also been common – not surprising given the widespread scour.

Attempts have been made to use alternative products with mixed success. On one farm, inclusion of organic acids in diets has been accompanied with the elective removal of all in feed antibiotic. Enteric health is satisfactory but a dramatic rise in respiratory disease has been reported.

Glassers Disease was the most common diagnosis in the month, in many cases working in tandem with PMWS. Mistakes with respect to medication levels in one farm led to a dramatic increase in pleurisy and pericarditis.

Milk spot livers continue to be widely reported, probably reflecting the active monitoring that is going on rather than any increase in problems.

Problems reported were relatively few but the usual scours and joint ill continue to crop up. 

In January, watch out for:

  • Slow growth, scouring and over-crowding in growers

  • Low farrowing rates

  • Respiratory disease

  • Vice

While every effort is made to ensure that the content of this forecast is accurate at the time of publication, NADIS cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions. All information is general and will need to be adapted in the light of individual farm circumstances in consultation with your veterinary surgeon

Copyright © NADIS 2002


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