Nadis Pig Veterinary Report and Forecast – September 2006

UK - This is a monthly report from the National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS), looking at the data collected from their UK farm inspections.
calendar icon 26 September 2006
clock icon 6 minute read


Whilst NADIS is primarily intended as a disease reporting service, recording veterinary surgeons are required to report as the major production features of the farms they attend such as fertility, litter size and preweaning mortality. Inevitably this means reviewing the recent history of the farm, it is therefore not surprising that many of the issues reported in this section of the herd relate to the hot weather in June and July and despite the fact that nationally summer appears to have come to an end rather early.

As a result there were numerous reports of reduced cycling, increase in return to oestrous and general lethargy in hot sows all contributing to infertility problems. Semen quality of purchase AI was also in question.

In addition the hot weather led to widespread reports of mastitis and MMA in sows around farrowing and rises in neonatal mortality with overlaying, litter desertion (outdoors) and poor milking all blamed.

However, the weather could not be blamed for all production problems seen. Service timing was thought to be at the root of increase in returns to service whilst in 2 unrelated herds major investigations of low productivity highlighted faulty age structure as the problem. In both cases retention of older sows, beyond their productive life was associated with low litter size, high stillbirth rates as well as poor rearability and higher return rates. It is disappointing that the lessons learnt in the wake of the Foot and Mouth Disease disruption do not appear to have been fully absorbed.

On the specific disease front, suspected Leptospira infection was blamed for 50% return to service at abnormal intervals (4-5 weeks post service) and one typical case of Parvovirus infection (mummification, abnormal returns to service, sows found not in pig) was seen. The latter is surprising given the availability of highly effective cheap vaccines but may reflect another cost cutting risk that bedevils the industry.

Pig Disease Incidence - By Age Group


August was a relatively quiet month for weaner reports with a widespread comment that better weather conditions seem to be associated with less PMWS in the young pig. The increasing rise of novel breed type boars appears also to be having a major effect.

Glassers disease was, however, the cause of some major problems and along with septic peritonitis was associated with early deaths although a specific cause has not thus far been identified.

A major problem with meningitis and post weaning lameness, was described in one herd with no obvious trigger.

Scouring ranging from post weaning enteritis to ileitis continues to afflict many herds.


As usual respiratory ailments and grower scours are the predominant features of problems seen in the finishing herd in August although the former was complicated in the SW region by reports of intense conjunctivitis (red eyes affecting pigs with respiratory disease). To date no other reports of this condition have been received.

Late stage PMWS was widely reported and it is a continual frustration that this disease not only has the ability to resist efforts to control it but jumps around within the age groups. Some but not all cases coincide with a rise in PDNS.

High levels of pleurisy were reported at slaughter as a cause of concern and it is encouraging to hear that producers in conjunction with their veterinary surgeon are starting to utilise the valuable information generated from the pig health monitoring scheme.

It is not surprising to see reports of Erysipelas in the warmer weather – particularly in straw based finishing systems.

Other disease problems reported included severe tail biting problems, gastric ulcerations (possibly feed related), rectal prolapses and bloat following rectal stricture, and Mycoplasma hyosynoviae lameness.

Two other interesting areas provoke comment in the reports.

  1. Growth rates and pig flow. Whilst many have recorded reduced feed intakes in the growing pigs through July – leading to slower growth and reduced numbers coming through for slaughter now, a lack of pigs (the result of earlier breeding herd production drop) was highlighted as an issue in the finishing herd. Lower stocking rates will assist faster growth but with a danger of greater fat deposition. Both of these areas are likely to lead to degeneration in grading profiles through September and October.

  2. A number of farms have slipped into Category 2 and 3 in the ZAP system of salmonella monitoring following the recent change to the threshold levels. Many producers happily resident in category 1 have become concerned to find themselves in category requiring positive action. Concern remains over our ability to lower salmonella contamination levels, particularly in scrape-through and straw yard systems.


Coccidiosis was reported widely through the summer with approximately 2% of piglets seen over the last 3 months affected. This tends to support the view that coccidiosis is a warm weather disease although historical reports from NADIS indicate that this is not exclusively the case.

Teeth clipping featured as an issue on a number of farms through August. The industry has come under popular, political and legislative pressure to desist from this so-called mutilation. Farms not clipping teeth at birth were seen to suffer facial eczema/necrosis but on a number of farms with high litter sizes (more than 11 born alive) and a higher mortality than desired preweaning, reintroduction of teeth clipping has consistently led to a reduction in death of piglets of between 2 & 5 percentage points – a major improvement in welfare.

Reports of scour in suckling pigs generally was reduced in August, probably reflecting improvement in hygiene as the cooler weather allowed sows to lie more comfortably without having to wet the pen.

In October watch out for:-

  1. Poor grading as growth rates increase
  2. Respiratory disease as air flow reduces
  3. Autumn infertility/abortion in sows
  4. Tail biting in variable temperatures
  5. PMWS as weather patterns change.

Further Information

To view the full report, click here

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