NADIS disease forecast – pigs (January)

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.

January 2004

By Mark White BVSc DPM MRCVS


NADIS Pig Disease Forecast

As the UK pig industry developed through the 1960 and 1970‘s producers began to realise the advantage of detailed information surrounding production in their herds. 

Advisors were able to use such information to identify areas of reduced performance and investigate patterns and causes. 

These lessons were carried through into the end of the last century and steady progress in production levels was seen both in individual units and nationally. 

Whilst many health and political problems have occurred in recent years to undermine production, and these have been well documented (e.g. PRRS, PMWS, Foot and Mouth Disease restrictions) over the last 4-5 years and certainly since the price collapse of 1998 many producers have rejected data collection as an integral part of pig farm management.

Not only are accurate records essential for day to day management but review data to signify production levels is a vital component of running any business. Without access to analytical data the advisor is unable to investigate and correct problem areas.

One of the familiar themes of this winter‘s round of discussion group topics is how can production get back to high levels of sow productivity (e.g. 24 pigs reared/sow/year). For many the first answer to this question is to rediscover the value and essential nature of thorough up to date recording. 

For example without knowing the exact age breakdown of the herd how can you expect to be able to reach the herds potential. Rather than looking for quick fixes or blaming disease, a methodical approach to breeding herd production supported by data will allow improvements in production and ultimately improvements in profitability.

Feeding problems for sows and in particular overfeeding prior to farrowing was associated with udder congestion and oedema on one farm with the result that milk production in later lactation suffered and had a big impact on piglet quality and weaning weights.

As we move out of the seasonal infertility period review data revealed problems in the summer associated with warm weather (especially in outdoor herds and mainly affecting older sows) with farrowing numbers then reduced in November. Autumn abortions had been a feature of many herds.

Strongyle worms were identified in the faeces of sows in 2 herds where they have previously not been seen.

The damp is variable weather in November (despite the lack of rain) was associated both with respiratory disease and vice on a very wide scale. Enzootic pneumonia (despite widespread vaccination) and Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia were widely reported – the latter believed to be the cause of a reported increase in pleurisy at slaughter despite an absence of clinical problems on farm. 

PMWS continues to underlie most respiratory disease seen and pericarditis/heart failure is a common secondary finding in these situations – probably associated with Strep suis/haemophilus parasuis infection.

Salt poisoning was reported in one herd although the circumstances were not detailed and in another herd growing gilts were dying as a result of Clostridium novyi infection following errors in vaccination.

Overstocking was reported to be the cause of a sharp rise in vice, PMWS and ileitis in one herd and Colitis/grower scour continues to be widely reported.

Outdoor herds constituted the bulk of the reports of piglet problems with raised mortality caused variably by excessive use of bedding (leading to overlaying), dirty conditions and in one farm Clostridial scour.

Coccidiosis appears to now seem to be a year round problem for some herds – hygiene is the key.

In January watch out for:

• Frozen water supplies leading to salt poisoning.
• Vice.
• Sow body condition.
• Lameness and fertility problems outdoors.
• Infertility resulting from Christmas serving.

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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