NADIS disease forecast – pigs (March(2))

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.

March 2005 (2)

By Mark White BVSc DPM MRCVS


From where do you obtain your animal medicines?  It may be changing.  Following the Competition Commission enquiry a few years ago and in line with EU Directives new legislation is being introduced – coming into effect in the autumn which may impose constraints on veterinary practices which make it non-viable to provide a large animal service.

This is likely to have an impact on the smaller producers who rely on local support for their business.  Most veterinary practices offering a pig service require a client base that is well spread – particularly in view of the industry contraction in the last few years.  There are proposals to limit the supply of medicines via the post which will make life very difficult for long distance clients and will compromise the ability of the veterinary surgeons to run their business – all in the interest of competition.  On the whole it seems very unlikely that medicine costs will reduce as a result of this legislation and if they do either the service will disappear or its costs will rise with resultant implications for animal health and welfare.

Historically the veterinary profession has had a good working relationship with the industry and as well as the chargeable service, provide uncharged support in the form of discussion group talks and work with liaison committees. 

Already a number of veterinary surgeons have been forced to withdraw from such voluntary involvement as the profitability of large animal veterinary practice declines.  It can only be hoped that the industry realises what it might be missing before it’s too late.  Destroying businesses in the interest of “Competition” seems a rather perverse way to be going.


Management faults and system failures were at the base of some of the fertility problems identified in the month.  With the widespread use of AI in UK pig farms, boar overuse has become something of a rarity although it was reported to be the cause of one outbreak of returns to service.  In other cases, the problem of mixing sows and gilts post serving was highlighted as the cause of low farrowing rate (<65%) and high levels of “late drop outs”.  They were not seen as abortions.  Problems were particularly severe in gilts which were added into an established ESF dynamic group at 5-6 weeks post serving and which suffered a farrowing rate of 55% as a result.

Inadequate feeding was highlighted as a cause of low fertility in another herd.

Strep suis meningitis unusually was reported in adults along with an outbreak of Swine Influenza causing inappetance lethargy and a subsequent rise in returns to service.

Vulva biting as a result of inadequate gut fill was attributed to a change to oat straw bedding on one farm and generally poor quality wheat straw bedding on another.


The monopoly of respiratory and enteric disease in the growing herd was broken this month by widespread reports of post weaning meningitis. This disease is normally associated with low airflow and high humidity. The freezing conditions at the end of the month were responsible for some cases of salt poisoning.

Enzootic pneumonia and rhinitis were reported but enteric diseases were more common, thought in many cases to be associated with chilling. The usual mixture of grower scours (associated variably with ileitis, colitis, nutritional problems and salmonella) were supplemented by reports of post weaning Ecoli scour and a rise in PMWS.

Mange was reported to be a serious issue on one farm severely affected with PMWS.


The common Ecoli and coccidial scours were added to this month with reports of Clostridium perfringens in baby piglets.

Mortality levels in outdoor herds have risen in association with overlaying and mismothering – a common winter problem.

In April watch out for:

1) Vice as weather becomes more variable.
2) Respiratory disease.
3) Meningitis.
4) Sow condition.

By Mark White BVSc DPM MRCVS

Copyright © NADIS 2005

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


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