NADIS Pig Veterinary Report and Forecast – April 2007

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 April 2007
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It proved a rather quiet month for problems in the breeding herd although veterinary reporters are still discussing production problems and throughput shortfalls that relate to the hot weather last summer and on into the autumn serving period. Poor straw quality in the autumn which may of course extend into winter may have played a role in some infertility problems.

In addition to these historic problems other breeding difficulties related to sporadic farms affected with delayed onset of oestrous (unusual in late winter) thought to be more due to poor heat detection than physiological problems and abortion/premature farrowing issues inevitably leading to litter loss; one case at least seemed to coincide with suspected swine influenza in the rest of the herd.

An unusual form of Greasy Pig Disease was identified in sows around farrowing affecting around 20% of sows with no comment as to whether offspring were affected.

High sow mortality in an outdoor herd was believed to be linked with excessive stone chewing and gastric irritation – something of a hazard for sows on stony ground although the underlying reason for sows chewing stones is unclear.


Scour and respiratory ailments continue to dominate the picture in the young growing pig. Much of the former is believed to be associated with PMWS and data will be analysed to see if the late winter has seen a numerical increase in the condition. E coli scour was also widespread and is of concern as the range of suitable treatments continues to decline. Acidifying feed and water are increasingly popular ways of attempting control.

The respiratory conditions are dominated by Glassers Disease – well recognised as an associate disease with PWMS. However, swine influenza has made an appearance in a number of farms.

Outside of these 2 major syndromes the 2 conditions seen that are most worthy of note were outbreaks of reported meningitis – although veterinary surgeons comment that they see few cases and rely on farmer diagnosis – and problems in establishing weaned pigs that were weaned too young and small as a result of pressure on farrowing accommodation following a surge of farrowings that occurred consequent to an earlier infertility problem last year.


It is of no great surprise that the vast majority of problems encountered at units in the winter were of a respiratory nature with a full range of causative agents detected.

In addition to the usual Glassers Disease/Enzootic Pneumonia/Mixed Respiratory Disease that is so prevalent, specific problems were reported with Actnobacillus pleuropneumoniae infection, several cases of Swine Influenza – especially in the East – late onset PMWS and specific problems with PRRS following destabilisation of a breeding herd after a herd expansion left half of the breeding animals as gilts. This suggests that particularly where high gilt input is required additional control measures such as vaccination for PRRS should be considered even in herds that have previously eschewed vaccination.

PDNS was also reported as an issue occasionally.

Enteric problems were surprisingly few with virtually no problematic outbreaks of colitis/grower scours mentioned. Of the problems reported, Salmonella ZAP scour control featured quite prominently with some farms approaching critical times for lowering their levels. Hygiene measures and acidification of feed and water are the most common techniques mentioned. Other issues included rectal prolapse outbreaks, gastric ulceration (which was controlled by dietary manipulation) and a problem with Trichuris suum infection – an unusual but severe parasitic disease producing signs very similar to swine dysentery (i.e. bloody mucoid scour).

Tail biting was referred to in 2 different contexts: -

  1. levels of vice were reduced generally by switching to wet feeding.

  2. levels of tail biting in mixed source finishing pigs varied with tail docking. None occurred in docked pigs whereas 6% of undocked pigs were affected. It was also perceived that the docked pigs grew faster.

Other more sporadic problems included: -

  1. Late onset meningitis

  2. Erysipelas including high carcass skinning and condemnation rates at slaughter

  3. Leg weakness in heavily muscled finishing pigs.

  4. Unusual skin lesions with severe skin necrosis suggestive of sporadic clostridial gangrene


Most of the problems specifically reported this month seemed to revolve around managemental and environmental error. Scour was seen associated with poor hygiene and low levels of manpower; Coccidiosis was controlled when staff were encouraged to administer Baycox at the correct - rather than at a convenient time. Severe joint ill was associated with very poor quality floors and high piglet mortality due to overlaying had its underlying cause in poor accommodation and demotivated staff.

An unusual congenital problem in 2 litters born to sister sows broke the trend. Pigs were born ‘sticky’ and oedematus. The cause is unknown and this is not a widely recognised genetic based congenital abnormality.

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