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Can AIAO Breeding Practices Break the Lifecycle of PEDV?

8 April 2014, at 8:57am

US - With the aim to break the lifecycle of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) virus in breeding units without the use of drugs or non-existent vaccines, Mark Anderson of Absolute Swine Insemination Co. (ASIC) has set up a discussion group for pig producers, veterinarians and others involved in the sector.

Mr Anderson writes: "I am not a veterinarian. I am the inventor of the AMG Series™ of catheters and Chairman of ASIC. I crave knowledge and research problems in the industry in search of solutions not traditionally sought after through conventional means… That said, none of what is presented below is easy, and much of what is presented below creates logistical issues; especially for farms with sow levels greater than 2,400. There are possibly terms that need to be identified, defined, and agreed to as a basis for discussion. None of the following represents hardcore 'instructions' on how you should approach PED virus (PEDV) in your specific unit(s).

"This material is presented to stimulate discussion(s) focused on alternate breeding methods that could help control PEDV by breaking its lifecycle through a controlled breeding practice.

"Therefore, let’s take a look at this issue from outside the box and a creative breeding perspective. Your personal input, experience, knowledge and participation is requested to make this a successful effort," he says.

Mr Anderson continues that in additional to immunising your herd through feedback protocols, 'try' to control the virus by breaking its life cycle if you want to render the virus inactive. One approach to accomplishing this is to practice all-in all-out production. In this case all-in all-out means ALL PIGS, SOWS AND BABIES!

Unlike normal weekly batch weaning that provides a continuous flow of animals into your farrowing barn, the all-in-all-out approach could allow time to clean, disinfect, dry, and let your farrowing barn sit for enough time necessary to inactivate the PEDV virus.

How exactly would this work? For ease of discussion, let’s say you have a 1,200-sow farm with approximately 225 farrowing crates. On any given week, you would be farrowing approximately 55 animals, or roughly 220 per month. This method ensures a constant flow of animals through your barn, along with the foot traffic and movement of animals that leads to the spread and continuation of PEDV.

If you, however, practice the all-in-all-out method of breeding using Matrix®, Porceptal, PG 600® or ovulation synchronization agonists now at your disposal, Mr Anderson says you could effectively synchronize an entire month’s worth of your animals for breeding, and breed them all within a very short period of time; thereby ensuring they would farrow together as a group too. If you bred 220 animals at one time and your farrowing barn was completely empty, there would be plenty of room to house the entire group when they farrowed without the addition of extra farrowing facilities. More importantly, if you weaned all at 18 (or less) days, scrupulously cleaned and disinfected the crates and surrounding facilities over a few day period, there would be a down time of five to seven days available to sit idle, dry out and be in lock down to any traffic whatsoever. Absolutely nobody and/or no animals would enter the farrowing barn during the lock-out period to allow the virus to become inactive, as presented in http://www.pork.org/News/4511/PracticalTimeandTemperatureOptionstoCurbPEDV.aspx

Extreme biosecurity measures would have to be followed throughout your entire farm too; not just in your farrowing barn. This means clinically/hospital clean, not just cosmetically!

First reactions might be, “I can’t breed that many animals at one time” or “my farrowing crew would have to work 24 hours a day to handle that load” come to mind. And yes, these are issues that need further discussion and understanding.

Mr Anderson says that breeding a large volume of animals under this scenario using the AMG Series catheters from Absolute Swine Insemination Company totally solves the breeding problem. Not only can one person safely breed approximately 45 animals by themselves in one hour (including gilts), the use of Matrix®, Porceptal, PG 600® or ovulation synchronization agonists eliminate the need for a second insemination, so your breeding burden just got cut in half again. In the example above, a three-person breeding crew could easily service 220 animals in probably three hours! That is most likely less than you are spending with your current system.

In addition to the time savings offered by the AMG Series catheters, this is the only catheter in the world that maintains complete and total bio-security from the semen container into your animal’s reproductive tract.

Vaginal fluids and contaminants are kept out of the reproductive tract, and the inside of AMG catheters are kept bio-secure from farm “air” until the very last second until they are used (http://www.abrods.com/absolute-pcai.html). The patented membrane is folded inside the tube providing a barrier on the foam end, and the semen container end is protected by a twist-off cap that prevents air from entering that end of the catheter until use.

Since it is estimated that one teaspoon of this virus can infect the entire US population of sows, it would make sense that you prevent this bug from entering the reproductive tract any way you can, and again, no other catheter in the world can make these bio-security claims, says Mr Anderson.

Farrowing is another story altogether and one you will have to coordinate with your crew, he continues. Creative scheduling will be the key to any successful program, because yes, you will in all likelihood need to have a farrowing crew on hand 24 hours a day when this group births.

Mr Anderson says he is hopeful trade-offs can be found with your people to give them additional time off during the month when things aren’t so hectic; and that should be rather easy to do since the breeding and farrowing would take place only once each month; compared to once or twice each week as you currently do!

The key here is to break the lifecycle of PEDV and render it inactive. Changes in thought processes, employee scheduling, breeding practices and the like will need to be considered. But then consider the consequences if you don’t do anything!

An article by Dr Paul Armbrecht was recently published in 'National Hog Farmer' magazine - A Veterinarian’s PEDV Commentary from the ‘Front Lines’ - states a very similar approach from a veterinarian’s technical point of view; Mr Anderson says he has simply added additional snippets from his own knowledge and personal research.

Another leading industry consultant from a major nutrition supplier has some first-hand knowledge of units that have switched to this method of production; and from what I hear, nobody is looking back. Due to legal reasons, I cannot list his name or company, but if you email me I will forward your questions and answer on his behalf; or he might choose to answer you directly. We will have to look at this on a case-by-case basis.

Not only could this help control this ever-so-nasty virus, it will also produce much more uniform piglets to work with. Since there is only one insemination all the piglets will be the same age. Under conventional practices, piglet’s age can vary by as much as three days depending on the breeder’s timing schedule and number of doses being administered.

Mr Anderson stated that he has heard some farms use the farrowing rooms as gestation rooms to some extent, and to empty the farrowing barn completely, there would not be enough gestation crates to hold all the sows. This does present a dilemma, and one that he is hoping will be discussed in this venue. One option is to reduce the sow level, but nobody wants to hear that… Then again, if a reduction leads to a control of the virus whereby you were back producing pigs, it might be well worth it!

On the other hand, what happens if in the future animal right’s activists win the battle and there are no gestation crates? With Canada and the EU getting on board with group housing, Walmart, McDonald's, Burger King and the like drawing lines in the sand, it is also something worthy of consideration and planning around. None of this is going to be easy, and much of what needs to be discussed will be downright unpleasant! Leave it to me to broach the subject and try to stimulate some meaningful discussions.

Just please don’t shoot the messenger in the process, asks Mr Anderson.

Here are a few more items to discuss.

  1. How could this breeding approach be implemented in 5,000+ sow farms?
  2. If you are successful in immunizing your farm using feedback protocols, how long will that immunity last? “IF” immunization is short lived, then an approach to break the life cycle as stated above will be all the more important!
  3. What if a vaccine is not on the near horizon? We all know great minds and fantastic companies are doing all they can to create one; but what if it takes years?

Let’s all give this some thought and put our heads together to form a practical approach to a real problem, says Mr Anderson.

The purpose of this piece is not to claim we found a definitive answer to this devastating problem for all farms, he continues. It is to offer a common sense, practical effort to help control this virus that seems to work in a great deal of farms, and to begin discussions and further research along these lines. There is much chatter in different venues happening at the moment but none seems to be focused in any specific area.

Mr Anderson is hoping this discussion board will help bring the great minds of our industry together where everyone can build upon each other’s successes and learn from one another’s failures.

He adds that he hopes you found the message worthwhile and will contact him if his firm can assist yours with any breeding protocols and/or research.

Mark Anderson, Chairman/Inventor of Absolute Swine Insemination Co., LLC ([email protected]).

To join his PEDV discussion group, visit http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=6664570&trk=anet_ug_hm.

Supporting PEDV documents, credits and worthwhile reading are thumb-nailed for your easy viewing on the ASIC web site, http://www.abrods.com/PEDV/links.html.