NADIS disease forecast – pigs (September)

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.

September 2004

By Mark White BVSc DPM MRCVS


NADIS Pig Disease Forecast

With a large proportion of the UK pig herd kept indoors, we could be forgiven for thinking that weather conditions has much less of an impact on pigs than they do on cattle and sheep production.  This is clearly not so for outdoor producers. 

However, the weather affects us all and, as we come towards the end of what can only be described as a highly variable and disappointing summer, it is worth considering what the impact might be as we head into the autumn.

Firstly, autumn infertility is usually more of a problem after poor summers and must be anticipated. Artificial lighting indoors should already be in place and outdoors, service targets should have been raised to anticipate the reduction in fertility.

Moreover, the particularly wet conditions in August have led to one of the more difficult harvests and, whilst grain yields are expected to be good – which will help keep prices down in compound feed – we can expect straw quality – particularly wheat straw – to be highly variable and generally poor. 

There are 2 potential risks if this proves to be the case:

  • Frankly mouldy straw, which may contain mycotoxins that can have impact on both health and fertility.

  • Poor absorptive capacity of damp straw that will risk chilling of pigs and lower levels of cleanliness. This will encourage enteric disease.

We may well be facing a year where producers will not only have to be selective with their straw but may have to increase use to compensate for poor quality.

Health Reports

Reports of lameness in sows increased in the summer, although there were no consistent trends as to causes (leg weakness, bush foot etc).

The hot weather produced both heat stroke and sunburn outdoors and some fertility problems.

Poor fertility and low litter size in gilts was identified as being the result of timing faults at service, possibly associated with time pressures on staff.

Fenders in bad condition were blamed for damage to teats and udders in one herd – yet another example of the difficulties that arise when margins are continually under pressure.

Scouring and enteric disease dominate this sector with few respiratory problems reported. There have been a number of reports of post weaning E coli enteritis; calling into question weaning age, post weaning feed management and environmental control.

PMWS and PDNS continue to be widely seen and the highly variable weather has been blamed for flare-ups of these conditions on many farms. Sadly, there are still farms where the disease has still not stabilised after 4 years.

Grower scours were commonplace and continue to be linked with the enforced reduction in feed copper levels. 

Loss of growth and reduction in digestibility of the diet are consistently seen and account for 30-50g per day lost growth. It is very difficult to see from where this growth can be retrieved.

Tail biting was reported as a major problem in one herd in which tails were not docked.

Greasy pig disease was also seen widely and a number of “stress” deaths were reported to have occurred in hot weather secondary to fighting after mixing.

E coli scours were the most commonly reported problems although unusually in late sucking period. Coccidiosis and rotavirus, whilst not specifically reported, remain major players in pigs above 7-10 days of age.

Facial necrosis was seen in pigs without their teeth clipped and these same pigs acquired Greasy pig disease after weaning as a result of skin wounds from fighting.

Umbilical hernias were identified as a problem in one herd, although a specific cause was not confirmed.

In September, watch out for:

  • Autumn Infertility

  • Mouldy straw

  • Vice

  • Respiratory disease

  • Over-crowding due to slow growth

  • Grading problems

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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