Pig farming

PRRS: Four Small Letters, One Big Problem!

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!

Pillar Number Two: Herd Management

Now this is obviously a very broad pillar, but we can break it down into bite-sized sections to make sure that PRRS is controlled every step of the way.

Gilt Management

Good gilt management is pivotal to stabilising PRRS in a breeding herd.

  • If you are buying gilts ensure appropriate isolation and PRRS testing occurs (make sure you talk to your vet about this bit).
  • Even if your herd is already PRRS positive, you should ideally not purchase gilts from another PRRS positive herd. Different herds will carry different PRRS strains, and if your pigs aren’t immune to the new strain it may cause a PRRS outbreak.
  • Gilts should be vaccinated with a modified live virus by at least 4 months of age to allow them to build appropriate immunity before service.

Sow Management

Good sow vaccination protocols are necessary to maintain stable herd PRRS immunity. The most popular vaccination regimes in the UK are mass vaccination, and the “6-60” approach:

  • Mass vaccination: Vaccinate all breeding stock at the same time (commonly every quarter)
  • “6-60”: Vaccination 6 days after farrowing and 60 days post service

Farrowing House Management

If your herd is stable then there should be no PRRS circulating in the farrowing house. However, if you are PRRS unstable the following can be done to limit the spread of the virus:

  • Limit cross fostering, as this practice can spread PRRS between litters.
  • Euthanase severely affected pigs.
  • Don’t roll poor or small pigs into the following batch – as they may take PRRS with them!
  • If you have to use foster sows, move the sow into the room, not the piglets out – when you move a piglet out it could be taking the PRRS virus with it into a clean room!
  • Apply good biosecurity (see PRRS Blog 2 – link to blog)

Feeding Herd Management

Managing the feeding herd must focus on limiting impact and spread of the virus:

  • Vaccination of piglets.
  • All in all out by airspace.
  • Apply good biosecurity (see PRRS Blog 2 – link to blog).
  • Controlling other endemic diseases: PRRS makes pigs more vulnerable to other infection so try to ensure other endemic diseases are well controlled, particularly respiratory diseases e.g. EP or APP, and other systemic diseases e.g. PCV2.

Control of PRRS is not a simple topic, but doing all you can to control the disease will limit its impact, improving the health of your herd, its productivity and ultimately your profit!

For further information please contact Zoetis UK Limited, Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7NS. www.zoetis.co.uk Customer Support: 0845 300 8034. Use medicines responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible). Date of preparation: January 2018. AH048/18