NADIS Pig Veterinary Report and Forecast - May 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 22 May 2007
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In the current political climate, and that which has prevailed in the UK for the last 15 – 20 years, straw based systems are regarded as better for pig welfare?

Early data from NADIS last year suggested that certain diseases might be more of a problem in the straw based system.

April reports seem to continue that theme. Respiratory disease ( recorded as a combination of enzootic pneumonia and mixed respiratory disease) was almost twice as prevalent on straw than on slats and colitis was 50% greater than on slats.

Of course, what this data cannot tell us is whether it is the straw per se which is the issue or whether it relates more to a lack of ventilation control that is inherent in many straw based systems – particularly the big yard system.

It may well be that the very mild winter and early warm spring has enabled many controlled environment houses, despite inadequate insulation in so many, to cope better than might have been expected.

The consistently higher levels of enteric disease in growing pigs on straw continues to highlight the key role hygiene plays and that removing pigs from their waste has a lot to be said for it in terms of clinical control.



Whilst the lingering effects of last summer’s hot spell have largely now past, an investigation into a marked recent drop in litter size was identified as being entirely due to “2nd litter drop” syndrome with a high number of this age group farrowing over the previous 3 months or so. This could be traced back to these animals farrowing and lactating as gilts during the summer and presumed feed intake problem. Such investigations were only possible with the use of detailed farm records.

Herd age structure anomalies continue to feature prominently as a cause of low herd productivity and there were the inevitable service management problems and issues with on farm collection and use of AI. In particular, time pressure on serving in a batch system in a large herd where large numbers are served in a 7 – 10 day window were thought to account for poor results.

Use of Regumate for synchronisation in outdoor gilts caused comment – in wet weather conditions administration of this product can be difficult and this appeared to account for a failure in its effect.

There is increasing interest in the use of Reprocine (Vetoquinol) in semen with the proviso that this is not a panacea for all fertility problems.

Nutrition in the widest sense featured in a number of reports. On the positive side, increasing feed provision in one case and water supply in another led to better weaning weights. Conversely only major problems with calibration in a sow wet feeding system had led to sow condition problems and more significantly major difficulties with young piglet mortality. (see below)

Outdoor sows continue to supplement their feed with stones – not always to their benefit.

On the infectious diseases front, problems more identified with Swine Influenza, Leptospirosis and PPRS all affecting fertility as well as a number of issues with gilts – Mycoplasma hyosynoviae lameness being a particular problem. Quality of gilts at delivery was highlighted as a problem occasionally.


A disparate range of problems were reported in the young piglets.

Poor sow nutrition lead to losses increasing from 12-25% in farrowing pens associated with severe anaemia despite routine iron injections. Iron alone will not make up for major nutritional deficiencies.

Along with the usual scour problems – Rotavirus being particularly seen; streptococcal septicaemia (Strep suis I) and greasy pig disease were seen in sucking pigs.

Mortality levels were seen to rise in a number of cases associated with poor attention to detail both indoor and outdoor. Overlaying and low viability are the usual categories for death but often hide problems with levels of stockmanship and general management.

The mild winter does not seem to have caused particular problems outdoors but figures will be analysed.


Problems in young growing pigs were not widely seen in the anecdotal reports. Odd cases of swine influenza and Glässers Disease were reported as was an outbreak of meningitis.

Scour was prominent with severe E-coli, causing significant post weaning losses, PMWS featuring watery scour a significant problem and occasional reports of ileitis type scour in the older weaners.

An unusual problem was reported in detail relating to losses post weaning in a newly stocked herd. A mixture of scour, fading, Glässers Disease and acute Vitamin E deficiency (Mulberry Heart Disease) were seen at post mortem examination in pigs 7-12 weeks of age. Pigs are growing very well in farrowing pens but immediate post weaning performance is poor. Dietary error seems to be at the back of this.


Anecdotal reports of respiratory disease were few and far between but the overall levels are to be analysed and reported separately.

The most significant feature during the month was a dramatic increase in reports of grower scours – a mixture of ileitis, Salmonella, spirochaetal diarrhoea and nutritional induced scour were seen, with no obvious trigger factors.

Late onset PMWS with PDNS is still a feature in a number of herds.

The first herds to have used the imported circovirus vaccine will have pigs up to 3 months of age by the end of April and whilst the early signs generally are encouraging, it is too early to fully judge the benefit and we wait to see if any late onset problems occur.

Fighting to the death caused significant losses for one producer with no obvious causation. Tail biting in a low stocking rate, deep straw system highlighted the fact that this problem is not restricted to slatted floors.

Milk spot livers continue to feature in discussion and an isolated problem of localised deep skin necrosis now affecting 3 pigs is thought possibly to be a staphylococcal infection that may have may have started in the stockman.

With summer approaching issues to watch out for include:

  1. Heat stroke and sunburn
  2. Erysipelas
  3. Slowed growth/reduced appetites
  4. Increased piglet mortality as pen hygiene degenerates
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