NADIS disease forecast – pigs (November)

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.

November 2004

By Mark White BVSc DPM MRCVS


NADIS Pig Disease Forecast

In the continued quest to control PMWS, which is now virtually ubiquitous within the UK pig population, many producers are turning to the introduction of a novel breed type as the terminal sire. 

Typically this has included the use of pure Hampshire, Piertrain and, to a lesser extent, Duroc boars/semen. Initial results on a number of herds are highly encouraging in terms of reduced mortality. 

It is believed that any benefit is the result of the heterosis effect (hybrid vigour) that novel genes introduce.

However, the growth characteristics of the progeny are very different to traditional White breed sired progeny and, indeed, are different between themselves. 

Other issues that arise include the preponderance of colour in the skin, which is worse where the female line includes coloured Duroc blood.

Where these changes have been put in place, nutritional advice should be sought as to the best approach to take to:

  • Achieve growth potential

  • Hit grading targets

  • Avoid carcass taint – particularly if larger carcasses are produced.

Furthermore, there is the issue of stocking rates. An on-going mortality of 12-15% post weaning, which has been common in many farms, has a dramatic “thinning” effect. 

Halving of this mortality – which can be seen with altered breeding programmes – will simply mean having more pigs to finish and this may have serious impacts on space provisions through finishing areas. These should be kept under constant review.

Some early problems have been encountered which can be traced back to this years difficult harvest. Inappetance and irregular returns to service was reported in one herd associate with the feeding of mouldy corn. 

Some loss of condition in sows during lactation has also been seen and raises the question of energy density of diets with new season cereals – particularly as the quality of much of this grain was poor.

Management problems continue to be seen. Poor sow productivity in one herd was traced back to a policy of inseminating all sows on a Monday and Tuesday, irrespective of the stage of heat. 

This may be a “labour saving” approach but is hardly likely to lead to optimum fertility!  Excessive farrowing house mortality as a result of inadequate stockmanship was also seen.

Farrowing fever was noted as a problem in association with post farrowing vaginal discharges.

Posterior paresis (off back legs) in gilts after weaning was associated with the combined effects of being too small at their initial service, heavy milking and insufficient feed intake.

A fairly typical autumnal weather pattern has accompanied a rise in health problems that would be entirely expected in the growing pigs.  Thus, this month has seen a rise in:

  • Vice, especially tail biting

  • Respiratory disease with Enzootic pneumonia, Glassers Disease and Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia and Swine Influenza all reported

  • Meningitis associated with Strep suis type II

  • Rectal prolapse

  • PMWS losses

In addition, grower scours were common and, in one herd, tail biting and reduced growth were ascribed to the presence of ergot (a mycotoxin) in wheat. Skin diseases such as mange and pityriasis rosea were also noted.

Along with the usual scour reports, thrombocytopaenic purpura was seen in one herd.

Also, there were reports of sudden deaths due to Strep suis infection in baby pigs in a herd that was also experiencing problems in 10-12 week old weaners. 

The serotype has not been identified but has echoes of Strep suis type 14 problems seen in the 1990’s but which have been, thankfully, unusual in recent times.

In November, watch out for:

  • Respiratory disease where air flows are low

  • Stocking rates as growth rates continue to struggle

  • Digestive problems

  • Farm fires – an alarming report that several cases of arson have occurred on farms

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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