Pig diseases spread to slash output

By Peter Crichton

KILLER pig diseases PDNS and PMWS are spreading faster, say vets, and herds in many parts of the country may soon become infected.

The diseases – Porcine Dermatitis and Nephropathy Syndrome and Post-weaning Multisystemic Wasting Syndrome – are most concentrated in pig-dense areas of East Anglia, where it first became a major problem last autumn.

Since then, according to regional sources, it has become widespread.

This may have been accelerated by routine movements of weaners and finished pigs into other parts of the country.

For those producers who are still running “clean” herds, there are a number of ways they can try to keep PDNS and PMWS at bay.

Vets advise improvements in bio-security at all levels, and have pointed out that livestock vehicles pose a major threat.

The same applies to feed delivery vehicles, and producers should buy their own feed-bin blower hoses rather than using the delivery-vehicle ones, which may have been dragged through the muck on other units.

Visitors to pig farms should be kept to a minimum and pests and vermin kept at bay wherever possible.

Stress in young pigs is believed to trigger the disease, and lower stocking rates and less mixing of pigs may help to avoid setting off the problem.

Losses in the rearing and finishing sheds on affected units are still hig,h with 10-20% mortality.

Often the losses are among the heavier weights, thus adding to financial losses and disposal problems for the farmer.

Other parts of Europe are believed to be facing similar problems, and the disease is reported to be widespread in several major pig-production countries.

As a result, supply numbers are tightening up across the EU and we have seen the UK kill fall from 280,000 per week a year ago to no less than 245,000 for mid April this year.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry

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