Boar stud requires high health status, zero tolerance for biosecurity errors

A boar stud producing semen for thousands of sows needs to maintain excellent health with the highest level of biosecurity possible.
calendar icon 22 December 2017
clock icon 3 minute read

“A boar stud is at the top of the health pyramid,” stated Doug Groth, DVM, Carthage Veterinary Service, Carthage, Illinois. “Our efforts are centered on not letting diseases into the stud where they could be carried down to the customer base.

“There’s zero tolerance for any errors and a very heightened awareness of risk factors,” he added.

Fortunately, the boar stud Groth works with experiences very few disease problems due to intensified biosecurity efforts. The staff undergoes frequent training on biosecurity protocols. In addition, they receive instruction to help understand the dire importance of biosecurity at the boar level.

The staff takes serum samples for disease testing when collecting semen. “Serum is more sensitive than semen. We find an early infection for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome shows up in blood before it does in semen. So, we learn how to monitor for the earliest possible detection of disease,” Groth told Pig Health Today.

While disease is rare in the boar stud, Groth said bacteria can contaminate semen. Some virulent bacteria will kill semen in 24 hours. A typical treatment is stricter cleanliness, since few other treatments are available.

Biosecurity follows semen to customer

When semen leaves the boar stud for delivery to customers, strict biosecurity protocols continue during transport to prevent farm-to-farm disease spread. Dedicated couriers deliver semen 5 days a week and follow detailed protocols, from disposable gloves and booties to wiping down coolers. Delivery vans are washed daily and stored in a heated building to dry.

All couriers undergo a review of procedures every 6 months to ensure proper protocols are followed, Groth explained.

Pork producers receiving semen must provide an off-site drop for deliveries. The site should be secure, temperature controlled and a good location for the producer and courier.

Other boar issues

The most common health issue troubling boars is lameness, Groth added. One reason for the lameness is selection of fast-growing boars with joint problems. Then boars continue to grow while living in a boar stud, reaching 700 pounds. The extra weight stresses legs and joints and becomes another reason for lameness.

Groth hopes to study the lameness issue and create an environment that prevents it in the future.

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