NADIS disease forecast (pigs) – May

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.

May 2005


In recent years, as the pig industry has come under increasing economic pressure, it is disappointing to acknowledge that the relationship between the pig farm and its veterinary advisor has changed and, generally, not for the better. 

Moreover, the advent and progression of quality assurance schemes has, in extremes, led to discontent amongst accusations that the vet has been reduced to nothing more than a “tick boxer” with distraction from advisory as health and production.  (The lack of farm records has not helped in the latter aspect of the vets job).

It is, therefore, very welcome to see that there has been a major shift in attitude of Assured British Pigs in altering the requirements of the quarterly veterinary inspection. 

The extent of the audit form has been severely curtailed and, whilst the audit points remain in place, the veterinary declaration has now been reduced to the more subjective approach of finding no evidence of unnecessary pain or distress – something which can be achieved by the experienced clinician without counting nipple drinkers!

This is a very welcome change.  Whilst many continue to doubt the value of quality assurance to the pig farm and hopefully will allow, to some extent, a re-building of the relationship between vet and client, such that vets are not seen to be simply wasting the farmers money on form filling.

Health Reports

April has seen a dramatic increase in the number of reports in pigs but, as expected, it is production levels rather than health which dominates the adult herd. Of particular note this month have been issues of poor litter size.

Stimulation by boars at service – or rather a lack of it – was blamed for a fall in litter size in sows serviced purely by AI. 

Similarly, in an outdoor herd, lack of boar stimulus of gilts in training paddocks was thought to account for low conception rates and litter size in gilts.

In a separate case, a change in policy 4 years previously to rely on back cross gilts from the bacon house has led to a steady deterioration in litter size, although it is not clear whether this has been exacerbated by the retention of second generation bacon gilts (i.e. offspring of the backcross gilts).

Wet weather conditions caused problems for outdoor herds, particularly in the form of lameness whilst elsewhere foxes were claimed to account for high piglet losses.

The typically highly variable spring weather has brought with it a range of problems commonly seen at this time of year. Vice was prevalent (in one case severe tail biting leading to septic arthritis and subsequent euthanasia) as was respiratory disease due to the usual suspects of Mycoplasma and Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae.

PMWS incidence has increased – dramatically on some farms – and there was a marked increase in PDNS cases. However, in the high health farms this does not seem to produce the lingering health problems (associated with secondary disease) that is common in herds of more basic health.

Both Strep suis meningitis and Erysipelas was reported – again, probably triggered by warm, humid and variable weather.

Scour predominates pre-weaning with both E coli and Clostridial disease the major diagnoses.  However, joint ill has also been reported as well as cases of pre-weaning Glasser’s Disease – a condition that appears to have been quiet in recent times.

A specific problem was reported in a single herd operating a multi-suckling system from 10 days post weaning. Sows were drying up and piglet fighting reached such high levels that facial necrosis was occurring. 

+Pigs of wide age and weight range were mixed, leading to wide discrepancies in weaning weight.

In July, watch out for:
Sunburn and Heatstroke
Slow growth/low appetite
Rats and mice

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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