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The Costs of Disease

Economics and the high health herd
(54) The most important reason for the establishment of a high health herd is to mitigate the severe effects of infectious disease. Most infectious diseases in the pig (excluding infections such as porcine parvovirus and leptospirosis) depress both the food conversion efficiency and daily live weight gain together with increases in mortality.

The factors contributing to the cost of disease include

  • Pig mortality - This results in increased production costs.
  • Increased overhead costs.
  • Increased feed costs
  • Loss of profit.
  • Decreased feed efficiency.
  • Increased stocking density.
  • Slow growth - low daily live weight gain.
  • Less live weight sold from the farm and a reduced throughput.
  • An increased incidence of other diseases
  • Increased labour costs.
  • Increased veterinary costs and medicines.
Fig.2-24 shows the mortality associated with specific diseases, based on field data, both in the early acute phase when the organism first enters a non immune herd and after it has moved into an enzootic or chronic form.

Fig.2-26 shows the costs of outbreaks of disease (calculated and or actual) based upon specific mortalities, loss of production and/or reproduction and feed efficiency. Feed costs of £165 per tonne and a margin over feed of £24 per pig have been used in the calculations. Veterinary costs include in-feed medication. Clearly actual costs depend upon the price of feed and market prices in your country but the figures place relative values on the costs of disease.

These costs relate to the acute phase of the disease and subsequent effects over 12 months and obviously such costs depend upon the severity of the outbreak and its period of continuation in that particular herd at that level of disease.

Based upon the figures in Fig-2-26 it is possible to produce guidelines of the costs of disease for a 1% adverse change from the target level as shown in 2-27.

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