Sows & Gilts
Breeding herd productivity formed the basis of most of
the reports through December and as is usually the case,
management issues were at the root of many problems.
Difficulties are still reported in herds switching to
batch farrowing as service procedures become condensed
into a short time period. Overserving in general through
the summer is also implicated in low-recorded farrowing
Uneven litter sizes may have resulted in some cases from
seasonal infertility effects whilst gilt
litter size and 2nd litter drops have also been reported.
In the case of gilts poor health matching and lack of acclimatisation
were suggested underlying factors.
The usual reports of poor service timing and technique
featured as did problems with late drop out returns. However,
another feature noted in a number of cases was the lack
of floor space provided for sows around and after service,
in part a result of carrying higher numbers of sows.
A number of health issues were also mentioned, and included:
1) Parvovirus as a result of inadequate vaccination policy.
2) Suspected Leptospirosis causing increase in returns
3) Mycotoxin exposure from feed or bedding inducing premature
4) Mange problems – the result of a failure to
follow an advised control programme.
A final observation from the
reports is a number of veterinary surgeons visiting clients
who are in the process of depopulating or reducing sow
numbers, in some cases due to longstanding intractable
disease, but with the harsh economic climate underlying
these decisions. It remains to be seen how many will restock.
Piglet quality at birth was highlighted as an issue affecting
subsequent mortality (probably related to sow nutrition)
although most mortality problems reported were either related
to disease – especially rotavirus scour and joint
ill - or management problems.
The importance of timing of control measures was also
highlighted with respect to coccidiosis treatment. The
off-licence use of Baycox is very widespread but it is
critical that piglets are dosed at the correct time – based
upon veterinary advice – if the programme is to be
A serious problem with savaging was described in one herd
with no apparent obvious trigger factor. Whilst not restricted
to gilts only, this is one of the more difficult problems
to deal with and often disappears before a definitive cause
can be identified.
Very low levels of reports of specific problems with weaners
were received during December, although the general level
of respiratory disease did rise at the end of the year.
Of specific interest:
a) A serious Glässers Disease problem was attributed
to high ammonia levels following addition of a slurry-digesting
agent to assist slurry removal.
b) An unusual manifestation of Greasy Pig Disease producing
isolated patches on the skin rather than the more usual
c) Meningitis/septicaemias reported in line with reduced
ventilation rates and likely increase in humidity levels.
Overall prevalence of respiratory disease in growers jumped
40% in November and December compared to a low in October
with the usual suspects of Enzootic pneumonia, APP, PRRS
and late onset PMWS all implicated. In some smaller herds
worms were also reported to be playing a part. Other herds,
however, were reporting good responses to either vaccination
or in feed medication.
Colitis/Ileitis was a commonly reported and slightly surprisingly
and worryingly there were a number of reports of Swine
Dysentery – a disease whose impact on health generally
and feed utilisation specifically can rarely be tolerated.
Prolapsed rectums and rectal strictures also featured,
as well as digestive and health difficulties arising from
pigs changing over to wet feed too young.
A comment received from more than one veterinary surgeon
related to the continuing unwise practice of mixing sources
of pigs into finishing sites. With such a wide range of
infectious agents now implicated in the respiratory disease
complex it is virtually impossible to health match weaners
and disease problems are almost inevitable when mixing
of sources occurs.
Unusual lameness was reported in some newly arrived weaners
but response to antibiotic treatment suggested an underlying
Finally, it would be an unusual month when vice was not
mentioned, although the only specific anecdotal report
related to a small extensive herd in which tail docking
was not practiced and tail biting was rife, highlighting
the fact that tail biting can be seen in any system and
can be triggered by a wide range of factors.
As the coldest months of the year arrive problems might
be anticipated with:
a) Water supply outdoors
b) Chilling of young pigs
c) Low ventilation rates and high respiratory disease
d) PMWS in weaners
Mark White BVSc DPM MRCVS
Copyright © NADIS 2008 www.nadis.org.uk
Cashing in on Great Pig Ideas
NADIS Pig Health Report for November 2007
Heavier Pigs Hitting The Market