Managing Respiratory Disease in Finishing Pigs

US - Successfully getting pigs to market means more profit, says Pfizer Animal Health.
calendar icon 7 January 2009
clock icon 4 minute read

With soaring feed costs, it is important for pork producers to do everything they can to manage production efficiency and control disease in the finisher. "We want to see the slow-growing, sick pigs recover quickly and get to market," says Darin Madson, DVM. Dr Madson is working toward his Ph.D. in veterinary pathology at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

Dr Madson, who also works in the ISU Diagnostic Laboratory and has experience working with an integrated swine production system, conducted on-farm trials to improve the number of finishing pigs that hit their ideal market weight at the same time. His group concentrated their efforts on selection by observing which pigs were not eating or drinking as much as the rest of the groups. These pigs also might show the early signs of disease.

Dr Madson hand-selected any pig that lagged behind the rest of the finishers. Those tail-enders were treated with a long-acting anti-infective—Draxxin® (tulathromycin) Injectable Solution from Pfizer Animal Health. The product was used to treat pigs that were breaking with swine influenza virus (SIV) infections. These groups also had or showed clinical signs of several other infections, including PRRS, Haemophilus parasuis and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae. Draxxin was administered during the first or second month of finishing depending on when the pigs started to show signs of disease.

In his trials, Dr Madson measured mortality and the percent of group that made the primary market target against the cost of the medication. "We wanted to see how many of those sick pigs could be brought back to health and get to market with the rest of their group," he explains. The lowest return on investment result was 3:1. His highest returning group was an 8:1 return. These trials were conducted in side-by-side, 2,000-head finishers. The sick pigs in one barn received Draxxin. Those results were compared against the other 2,000-head finisher on the property in which those pigs received the farm's convention treatment regimen.

Grant Allison, DVM, with the Walcott Veterinary Clinic in Walcott, Iowa, saw similar results treating what he calls 'disadvantaged' finishing pigs. "We sorted and then treated those pigs that were falling behind the rest of the group," Dr Allison says. "These 40-60 –pound pigs were worth at least $50 due to high feed costs. We felt they could reach market weight with the rest of the group if treated successfully."

Dr Allison's team identified the pigs that were smaller and lighter weight, compared with the rest of their group. Those pigs often showed early signs of respiratory disease and already were coughing in the first week or two in the finishing barn. "We found great success by using one shot of Draxxin right away to get those pigs the best chance of getting back on track," he said.

Draxxin is indicated against five key bacterial pathogens that cause swine respiratory disease associated with Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, Pasteurella multocida, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Haemophilus parasuis and now Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae. The product provides a low-volume dose and is available in 50, 100, 250 and 500 mL sizes.

For more information about the proper use of Draxxin in swine operations, producers should talk with their veterinarian or local Pfizer Animal Health representative, or visit the special web site.

Draxxin has a pre-slaughter time of five days and should not be given to pigs that are hypersensitive to the product. Always follow the pre-slaughter withdrawal time.

Individual Pig CareTM is an approach that provides for pig needs to maximize potential, producer needs for increased profitability and societal needs for a sustainable, high-quality product, raised with sound husbandry practices.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on PRRS by clicking here.
- Find out more information on Haemophilus Parasuis (Hps) by clicking here.
- Find out more information on Mycoplasma Hyopneumoniae (M-Hyo) by clicking here.
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