A common theme in anecdotal reports by NADIS veterinary
surgeons in the early part of the month were problems that
have accrued as a result of restrictions of movements of
pigs under the FMD controls and the indirect effect of
the ban on export of meat reducing demand for both clean
pigs and sows. With restrictions now relaxing it would
be anticipated that on farm problems will subside.
Sow mortality was highlighted by a number of reporters as increasing and in
many cases this has been a direct result of having to retain
cull sows due to market restrictions. Either sows have
been euthanased because they have not been able to be sold
or the overcrowding resulting from retention of cull sows
leads to injury requiring euthanasia or direct deaths.
A number of reporters have also commented that seasonal infertility has not
been a major problem and generally at much lower levels
than is usually the case. This may have implications late
in the year if excess numbers have been served to offset
the anticipated dip in fertility. Notwithstanding, these
general observations, sporadic reports of extended weaning
to service intervals, late drop outs and even abortions
have been received although the latter are generally within ‘normal’ limits
and probably do not represent specific seasonal problems.
Lactation failure due to overfeeding of sows around farrowing
time was observed, details of which are available in an
earlier health bulletin.
Infectious disease was a very limited problem during October,
although reports of Erysipelas (despite vaccination) and
presumed Swine Influenza were received.
As well as the usual scour reports involving E.coli, coccidia etc, the most
important issue discussed related to overproduction
of piglets either as a result of very high litter size
or due to excessive numbers of sows farrowing, requiring
distribution of piglets amongst remaining sows. Given that
sows only produce a finite amount of milk, if this has
to be shared between more piglets then growth will suffer
in individuals with an impact on weaning weight and post
Tail docking, whilst not permitted to be done routinely is nevertheless necessarily
widely practiced. However, if not done cleanly or with
excessive heat, damage to the tail base can be significant
and this was noted in one report.
In the immediate post weaning period, problems identified in the month included
E.coli scour, meningitis and fading piglets as a result
of weaning too small where growth on the sow was compromised.
PMWS was prevalent in the older weaners with its common
complication of Glassers Disease frequently reported.
Ear tip necrosis was also widely seen but the most common features within weaner
buildings commented upon, particularly in the early part
of the month, were disruption to pig flow and overcrowding
as a result of movement restrictions and the knock on effects
of reduced demand for finishing pigs.
Fly bite lesions were reported in young yarded pigs in a single farm and it
is hoped and expected that this problem, which has been
seen sporadically throughout the summer, will now abate.
Scour/looseness in growing pigs remains a major issue with Ileitis, Colitis
and Swine Dysentery continuing to feature variably as specific
causes. However, the most noticeable feature of the last
month is a general observation by a number of reporters
that loose faeces is widespread since new season grain
has come into use. As with fly bites, it would be expected
that this would decline.
Influenza continues to appear sporadically amongst problems of mixed respiratory
disease, as a clinical diagnosis. This virus is rarely
isolated by the VLA at the moment but this may reflect
on unwillingness on the part of producers to pay for diagnostic
testing. (Recent restrictions on sample submission may
also have played a part.)
Damage to pigs was reported in a range of formats:
- 1) Tail biting – associated with increased stocking rates, draughts and
- 2) Penile damage in boars following excessive riding in straw yards – the
yard system appearing to favour the development of sexual
- 3) Electrocution of a batch of pigs when an electrical fault led to the metal
pen divisions becoming live.
Wasted pigs, in some cases in association with PDNS, were sporadically reported
with a least one instance of what used to be called “arable
disease” i.e. neglect of the normal standards of
care as a result of distractions of land work.
A final observation from clinicians undertaking abattoir monitoring is the increase
in overt cases of pregnancy in slaughter gilts with 4 – 5
week gestations reported. Whilst such cases frequently
are seen sporadically an increase may represent simply
the fact that pigs have been ‘rolled over’ for
slaughter and many will be 1 – 2 weeks older than
usually is the case.
As we settle into the winter, problems to watch out for include:
- 1) Respiratory disease and vice as a result of draughts and reduced ventilation.
- 2) Influenza affecting all age groups.
- 3) Excess production following reduced sow culling.
Mark White BVSc DPM MRCVS
Heavier Pigs Hitting The Market
Avoid Temptation to Retain Old Sows
Model For Pig Producers