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Breeding topics lead off Illinois swine conference
Illinois Correspondent

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Sow producers from Illinois and Iowa got updates on the latest information on hog health issues during the Illinois Swine Reproductive Health Conference in December.

Dr. Thomas J. Fangman, a veterinarian and associate professor from the University of Missouri spoke on Protecting the Breeding Herd: When Vaccination Becomes Immunization.

“Vaccination may or may not be immunization,” Fangman said.

While vaccination leads to immunization, this is under the assumption that a sow meets several healthy criteria that Fangman outlined. He also identified situations when a vaccine may fail.

“Immunization may or may not lead to protection from a disease antigen,” he said.

On a positive note, he added, “Properly immunizing the sow or gilt before she farrows will allow the sow to produce the specific antibodies (proteins) that will be a part of the colostrum that is needed to protect the baby pigs from the pathogens that they are most likely to encounter during the first three weeks of life.”

Fangman said it is important to give sows enough time to manufacture the needed antibodies for her young, and that she should be vaccinated ‘three and five weeks or four and six weeks before farrowing.”

Later in the day, Fangman provided a presentation on Putting Real Biosecurity to the Test. He emphasized the importance of the topic with his opening slide, “This is a TEST, this is only a TEST (or is it really?) A Worst Case Scenario … this is your farm, this could be your worst nightmare.” Fangman said dealing with an emergency in a safe manner can make all the difference for a sow producer.

Dr. Larry Firkins, a veterinarian on the staff at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois presented the topic Is Your Herd At Risk For One of These?

The risks Firkins referred to were major diseases that affect reproduction in swine. The diseases mentioned were Parvovirus, PRRS, Influenza, Leptospirosis, Japanese B Encephalitis, Hog Cholera, Pseudorabies, and Brucellosis. Interspecies contamination was one of the ways he said that disease transmission occurs. He pointed to the CDC Guidelines for Poultry Workers as a way to help control disease.

“Influenza viruses remain one of the most dangerous threats to pigs, poultry and people,” Firkin said. “Major influenza outbreaks could jeopardize the pork and poultry industries, severely damage the nation’s economy, and in the worst case scenario, contribute to human illness and death.”

Dr. Rodger D. Schneck, of Alpharma Technical Services, provided a presentation on A Prairie Vet’s Perspective of Health Considerations for Replacement Gilts. He pointed out the culling rates and mortality rates have risen in recent years. To counter this, he offered a Gilt Development Outline.

“Maintain high selection standards,” Schneck explained. “House and manage them separately. Feed gilt development rations. Avoid breeding gilts too young and too light. Provide an appropriate isolation-acclimation program.”

He emphasized, “These cannot be overlooked or ignored.”

Schneck then went into details on each item on his outline and summarized with the following conclusion.

“The best way to minimize problems that could arise from the introduction of replacements is to involve the recipient herd’s veterinarian in direct dialogue with the source herd’s veterinarian, reviewing herd histories, serology and diagnostics to identify incompatibilities and to establish a sound Isolation-Acclimation program which includes medicated feed additives, vaccines, and appropriate natural exposure,” he said.

Dr. Rob Knox, swine extension specialist for the University of Illinois spoke about Minimizing the Risk of Disease From Semen.

He explained that disease risk from semen could “facilitate rapid spread of diseases via semen.”

However, he said, “Not all venereal transmissions of viruses is associated with clinical signs of disease in boars.

“Semen collection is not a sterile process and bacteria in ejaculates is not uncommon and the uterus is highly sensitive, but that diseases via this route of infection are often location and area dependent.”

Knox continued explaining bacterial control, and how to improve semen collection techniques to reduce risk.

Dr. Bill Hollis of the Carthage Veterinary Service, Ltd presented information about Early Detection of Health Problems in Breeding Herd and Actions to Take.

He opened with the statement, “Experience is a difficult teacher. She gives you the test and then gives you the lessons.”

He pointed out the importance of knowing where to look, and how to look for health problems along with the importance of working together.

“Division between farrowing and breeding can be destructive,” Hollis said.

Hollis said to monitor activity and know details about your gilts, piglets and sows and boars. Dr. Hollis had a second presentation titled Top 10 Things To Do To Improve Overall Breeding Herd Health. The top 10 included:

•Eliminate PRRS, if unable to eliminate, constantly monitor/attack/kill PRRS

•Organize gilt development program

•Review vaccinations and medications monthly and maintain a log

•Gather diagnostics and act quickly on results

•Truly full feed gilt development, lactation, and post weaning

•Feed to optimum condition in gestation

•Diagnose all reasons for mortality (remove unknown)

•Identify on-farm advocates to monitor and treat sows (SWAP)

•And lastly, he said, everybody shares responsibility

These topics rounded out a full day of presentations with a lot of take home information for those that attended.

Published in the January 11, 2006 issue of Farm World.