NADIS Pig Veterinary Report and Forecast - June 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 28 June 2007
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Anecdotal reports from NADIS reporting vets highlighted a wide range of problems in all classes of stock through late April and into May. The following is a brief description of some or the more significant or interesting problems encountered.


Sow condition was highlighted as an issue in a number of reports with nutritional advice given by many veterinary surgeons. This mostly relates to the actual levels of feed especially around weaning and in the farrowing houses, but in one case a change of protein source to fish meal (from Soya) coincided with improvement in conception rates. Lactation problems were also highlighted as being of nutritional origin.

Onset of oestrus after weaning was a problem for a number of herds with overcrowding of weaning pens and poor boar contact highlighted as the major factors. Commonly some reports were received identifying improvements in oestrus onset where lighting had been improved and reorganisation of the service area had led to better sow stimulation.

A number of investigations were reported where sow herd age structure was an issue contributing variably to poor litter sizes, high piglet mortality and general poor herd productivity.

Several herds experienced rises in sow deaths although no consistent pattern or relationships were seen. The unusually warm April especially in the south brought with it the first reports of heat stress in sows.


The full range of common infectious syndromes where reported in piglets including joint ill, meningitis, scour (associated with chilling in a number of cases) and greasy pig disease.

Localised wet weather contributed to sudden increases in mortality of piglets outdoors.

Very unusually there was a single report of erysipelas in piglets before weaning; a useful reminder of the essential need for vaccination of sows.


Mixed respiratory diseases dominated the sector with Glässers Disease, Swine Influenza, Enzootic Pneumonia, PRRS and PMWS widely reported. Control of the problem was variably achieved with techniques such as vaccination, permanent and pulse medication and changes to pig flow.

The first reports of the use of circovirus vaccines in sows in the UK are starting to filter through and whilst it is necessary to wait for growing pigs to work right through to slaughter before the true benefits can be assessed, the early signs are highly encouraging with farms seeing dramatic reductions in both levels of sick pigs and mortality. This vaccine is not currently licensed in the UK but is imported under special licence. A full UK licence is eagerly awaited.

Sub optimum vitamin E levels were thought to be underlying one major incident of post weaning disease problems (scour, respiratory disease, fading and death).

Post weaning scour was also widespread and, very unusually, swine dysentery was reported in older weaners (10weeks of age) – a disease usually seen mostly in older growing pigs.

Meningitis, greasy pig disease and tail biting problems were widespread, all likely to be influenced by weather conditions – particularly high humidity within pig buildings.


Problems in the finishing herd were dominated by respiratory based diseases with Glässers, late onset PMWS, PDNS and Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia all contributing to the picture. The unusual and highly variable weather conditions through April and May are likely to have had an influence highlighting the importance of environmental control in the overall management of pig diseases.

In one case, respiratory disease affecting growing gilts in a farm producing its own replacements was blamed for the subsequent poor reproductive performance of those gilts.

Many tail biting problems were also commented upon, suggesting again environmental problems although the link with concommitant disease should not be forgotten.

Enteric disease (colitis, grower scours, ileitis) did not feature prominently in anecdotal reports although in many cases farms have come to live with certain levels of this problem and it may not always be raised as an issue either by the stockman or veterinary surgeon as part of the discussion at farm units.

With summer conditions now set and expected to last for the next few months “warm weather problems” can be expected. e.g. :-

  • Respiratory disease
  • Tail biting
  • Summer infertility
  • Heart stress and sunburn
  • Erysipelas
  • Coccidiosis
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