PMWS Hits Hard

NEW ZEALAND - Tim Cronshaw looks at what an outbreak of weaner- wasting syndrome means for Canterbury pig farmers.

Waitangi Day weekend will go down in the memory of West Melton pig farmer Chris Trengrove for the worst of reasons.

The farmer knew something was wrong was when many of his young pigs began to waste away.

On the Monday, he called in a veterinarian, but was no closer to learning how to treat the weaners. Nor was there the comfort of an explanation for their deaths.

Trengrove, chairman of the New Zealand Pork Industry Board (PIB), did not learn until later that they had almost certainly been exposed to post- weaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS).

About 5 per cent of his weaners have since been taken down by the syndrome called the wasting disease.

"It's soul destroying and distressing, not only on myself, but on my staff," he says. "I think what picked me up and that is making us work really hard on the farm is that we knew we could do something about it.

"We thought we couldn't when they were first talking about PMWS."

Trengrove has agreed to speak openly because he believes it is the best way to combat the disease's spread. He emphasises that it poses no human health or food-safety issues.

Trengrove is not alone. At least 14 piggeries, from the south of Christchurch to Ashburton, have been identified with the disease. More will almost certainly come into contact.

The closest estimate is that 1000 weaners have died so far out of the 20,000 pigs that have gone through the susceptible six-week to 12-week age group from November.

For more information, please visit our PMWS Technical Zone

calendar icon 17 March 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
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