Historically the pig industry used antimicrobials in the diets of young pigs to control disease, such as post weaning diarrhoea (PWD), however the UK pig industry has now drastically reduced its reliance on antimicrobial use.
As far back as I can remember, it was always my dream to be a vet, and I was always
wanting to help improve animal health and welfare. My grandad and my father were pig
farmers in Northern Ireland, so it’s what I know, love and have a real passion for. And
because pig health and management are so closely interconnected, the sector suits my
practical and hands-on approach.
The fear about coronavirus is spreading around the world faster than the virus itself. But did you know that you possibly have coronavirus on your pig farm right now? No need to panic, these are porcine coronaviruses that can’t infect humans, but they can cause some nasty diseases in pigs.
A vaccine stimulates a specific immune response in an animal to give them protection against disease. The way a vaccine does this is by “tricking” the animal into thinking it is being infected, so it makes the appropriate antibodies.
African Swine Fever (ASF) is probably the notifiable disease which is causing the most sleepless nights across the pig industry at the moment; the main reason being that the virus has been moving from east to west across Europe.
There are multiple things that can cause a pig to go lame: It could be injured from riding, injured from fighting, or it may have an infected joint. But those causes often just affect an individual pig. There’s another cause of lameness, a bacteria called Mycoplasma hyosynoviae, which is endemic in the UK pig herd, and commonly causes widespread lameness in pigs.
Tail biting is one of the most frustrating things a pig farmer has to deal with: It damages pig welfare and profits, and it can be infuriatingly difficult to control! So to understand how best to control it we need to try and understand why it occurs..
Farming is centuries old. But that’s no reason to not be excited about its future. Agriculture is an ever-changing industry. It’s necessary to engage with new discoveries, new initiatives and new ideas to stay on top of your business and inspire the farmers of tomorrow.
Most farmers are quite robust characters; they have to be in order to survive the modern day pressures and stresses of farming. The physical nature of the job also means most farmers will have a dodgy back, or a sore hip, or a tender knee.
Pigs are naked, they have little hair and only some fat to keep them warm. So put yourselves in their position, after all without clothes we are similarly insulated (no comments on individual hairiness or personal P2 levels please!). Basically would you be comfortable (thermally!) in the pig housing without any clothing on to trap your body heat? If the answer is no, you might need to address the building management.
Glässers Disease can be found up the nose of most pigs, it’s caused by a bacterium called Haemophilus parasuis (HPS). HPS doesn’t normally cause any problems until the pigs are stressed. The classic stress is a sudden change in temperature, and this is why you often see Glässers Disease in the autumn when you have the first frosts, or in the spring when you get warm days followed by chilly nights.
There are four pillars of PRRS control. You must apply all four in order to successfully control PRRS. In this section, we talk about herd management and how, if done properly, it can reduce the risk of PRRS and therefore increase productivity!
When vets aren’t specialised in pigs, the diseases of our porky friends are quickly forgotten about after University. Erysipelas is often the exception; but why do they still recall Erysipelas? Because everyone remembers that picture of a pig with Diamonds on its skin! It’s a pretty classic sign that vets, agricultural students and pig stockmen are all taught about – the raised red lesions, often in the shape of a diamond that you see on the skin of a pig which has Erysipelas. Now I hate to disappoint those of you that remember that picture, but the lesions aren’t always diamond shape: sometimes they are round, randomly shaped, or even just blotches. And to disappoint you further you can have Erysipelas issues without seeing skin lesions.
As an industry we are obsessed with figures: Pigs weaned per sow per year, Replacement Rates, Farrowing Rates, Mortality, Average Daily Gain (ADG) etc. But the most financially important of these figures, if you finish your pigs, is Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR).
Boar Taint is a controversial subject. Some people say it is not an issue at all, and others say it is the biggest challenge to meat quality. Dr Laura Hancox shares a recent experience at the Pigs 2022 conference where sensory perception is indeed a tale of two halves.
The piglet is a blank canvas ready to be populated. We want the piglet to get “Friendly Bacteria” (as the yoghurt adverts say!), but if the “Bad Bacteria” get in before the “Friendly Bacteria” then you get diarrhoea. See how you can prevent this.
After weaning, a pig’s guts are in a very delicate balancing act. The stress of weaning makes their intestines more “leaky” letting toxins in and leaking fluid out. Finding the most suitable balance can be tricky, Laura Hancox explains more.
Weaning is commonly thought to be the most stressful event in the life of a pig, so what steps can you take to minimise piglet stress at weaning? And how can you reduce the chances of a costly check in growth?
Hello and a very warm welcome to our Pig Farming section of the Livestock Farming blog. This is a space for the pig farming community in the UK to keep up to date with industry news, trends and insights.