Our author: Dr. Theodor Schulze-Horsel, Swine Health Service NRW
Everyone saves where they can. The continued low prices on the piglet and slaughter pig market, as well as the exploding feed and energy costs, leave many pig farmers with no other choice. One or the other vaccination or prophylactic measure is also put to the test.
But be careful! Halving the vaccination dose, extending vaccination intervals on your own initiative or simply omitting vaccinations without a diagnostic check is certainly the worst solution. Because if the economic problems are accompanied by setbacks in animal health, the harm is greater than the benefit. And for piglet producers, a satisfied butcher who receives the piglets on time is at least as important as the bank’s support.
Therefore, together with your farm vet, take a closer look at the vaccinations and preventive measures carried out in your company. And then decide which vaccinations you can do without on a trial and controlled basis. Here are some examples of how to do this.
Parvo/erysipelas is a must
Vaccination against parvovirus is now standard. Sows, boars and gilts are vaccinated. The treatment is repeated every four months. In theory, infection is followed by lifelong immunity. However, farms that vaccinate their stock report that if the vaccination interval is extended to five months or longer, typical clinical symptoms of parvovirus may reappear. Suddenly, litters of dead piglets or mummies are born again. The estrous rate increases, some sows even become infertile in the long term.
If you therefore compare the costs of the vaccination with the damage that may occur, it quickly becomes clear that the parvo vaccination should definitely be continued. This also applies to the erysipelas component of this double vaccination. Because erysipelas is a disease that can be transmitted to humans. Visibly sick animals are therefore completely discarded at the slaughterhouse.
Snuff is rare
The nose disease (rhinitis atrophicans) occurs quite rarely since the successful eradication in the breeding stage. But there are still some farms that vaccinate against it. Toxin-producing strains of Pasteurella multocida cause the disease. The toxin damages the cells responsible for building bones. The affected animals suffer from a shortening or curvature of the upper jaw and their daily weight gain is significantly reduced.
The toxin-producing Pasteurella often colonizes the animals when they are piglets, but the jaw changes can only be seen at the end of piglet rearing or during fattening. It is therefore important to carefully vaccinate all breeding animals on affected sow farms against toxin-producing Pasteurella.
At the start of the match, there is also an antibiotic treatment program. The piglets receive three doses of the long-term antibiotic oxytetracycline. The treatments are carried out on the first and fifth to seventh days of life (LT) and at weaning. If necessary, there is another treatment at the beginning of piglet rearing. The antibiotics can be slowly reduced from the third to fourth week after the second sow vaccination.
If you have been vaccinated consistently for three to four years and there has been no clinic for at least two years, you can try to opt out of the vaccination. However, nasal swabs should always be taken and tested for toxin-forming Pasteurella when respiratory illnesses occur.
Omission of PRRS vaccination?
PRRS vaccination of sows is similar to parvo/erysipelas vaccination: the cost saved by not vaccinating is disproportionate to the harm that can occur if clinical PRRS symptoms recur. Especially since the risk of infection is high, because the virus can easily be transmitted up to three kilometers through the air. In pig-dense areas, there are therefore hardly any alternatives to sow vaccination. Only for isolated holdings is it worth considering setting up a PRRS-free herd.
Farms that also vaccinate piglets after a clinical outbreak of PRRS may try to stop vaccinating piglets after six to twelve months at the earliest. Then there is the possibility of producing PRRS-free piglets from the vaccinated sow herd. However, the withdrawal must be accompanied by laboratory diagnostics using blood samples that are checked for PRRS using the PCR method. If the piglet vaccination is requested by the butcher and rewarded fairly, you should stick to it. Because PRRS-vaccinated piglets also reliably reduce the infection pressure on the sows.
Vaccination against mycoplasma
The cause of enzootic pneumonia, the pathogen Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, primarily enters the herd via purchased animals. But airborne transmission is also possible. In island locations, such as in eastern Germany, it is possible to establish mycoplasma-free herds and then maintain them free. Pigs free of mycoplasma have the best chance of development if they are kept permanently free.
If piglets from these herds are transferred to pig-dense areas such as B. sold to Northwest Germany, it can lead to significant clinical symptoms if the animals become infected again through the air. In densely populated areas, mycoplasma vaccination is therefore standard and should remain so!
Reconsider Circo exit
The PCV 2 virus can cause problems and large losses in piglet farming. Circo vaccination of piglets is therefore now standard. In addition, the pathogen can cause fertility problems in sows such as late abortions, delayed births, stillborn piglets and mummies. If laboratory tests confirm that circoviruses are causing the fertility problems, vaccination of the sows is recommended.
If the herd of sows has been vaccinated against Circo several times, and circovirus cannot currently be detected in either the sows or piglets, it is possible to opt out of vaccination in closed systems or with a 1:1 relationship between teat producer and piglet. the greaser. The prerequisite here, however, is that everyone involved is informed about the vaccination procedure! Because there is no guarantee that the vaccination exemption really works.
APP problems in the mast
The bacterium Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (APP) can lead to respiratory diseases in rearing and fattening and to sudden death in the final fattening. Several fattening companies are currently complaining about the sudden death of final fattening animals. Therefore, withdrawing from the APP vaccination is not recommended at this time. On the contrary: the vaccination is well on its way to becoming the fourth standard vaccination.
If piglet producers with a direct fattening connection nevertheless consider phasing out vaccination, this should be accompanied by both farm veterinarians. In principle, it is possible that the APP pathogen has been suppressed to such an extent after a few years of vaccination that clinical symptoms no longer occur after vaccination is discontinued. It is also possible to build an APP-free warehouse through total renovation. For this purpose, a new herd is recruited with SPF animals (specifically pathogen-free). However, due to the risk of re-infection via the air, the remediation should be carried out across the board.
When should you get vaccinated against influenza?
Influenza is a febrile infection of the respiratory tract caused by various influenza A viruses in pigs. In sows, the fever can also damage the fetus and even lead to abortion. But pigs are not only susceptible to swine flu strains, but also to humans and birds.
The strains H1 N1, H1 N2 and H3 N2 as well as the pandemic H1 N1pan and H1 N2pan are currently found in German pig populations. The standard vaccine covers the strains H1 N1, H1 N2 and H3 N2. Another vaccine provides protection against pandemic type H1 N1pan.
It makes sense to vaccinate the sows with a vaccine that suits the farm or the right combination. For cost reasons, vaccination of fattening pigs is only recommended in individual cases and for a limited period. This applies primarily when the chain of infection does not break in a fattening farm that houses new piglets every three weeks, and the piglets continue to be infected from the older animals. In this case, the piglets would be vaccinated for a period of four to six months before being put into the fattening facility until the chain of infection was broken.
Optimize feed and hygiene
Sometimes vaccinations can be avoided by improving other factors that are also important for animal health. A good example of this is piglet diarrhoea, which is caused by coliform bacteria and clostridia. Because these diarrheas are influenced by many factors. In addition to the herd’s immunity, this also includes the feed, the type of feed and feed hygiene. The treatment of piglet diarrhea should therefore start at all the points mentioned. Advice for salmonella-susceptible farms has shown that acidifying the feed offers many benefits. Just adding 0.5% benzoic acid to the sow feed between five days before and five days after birth can have such a lasting effect on the intestinal flora that diarrhea almost never occurs.
Coordinate with veterinarian and fattener
Before carrying out a vaccination measure, piglet producers should absolutely coordinate their plan with their farm veterinarian and, if possible, with the downstream feedlots. The farm veterinarian must be involved in the decision, so that he can diagnostically monitor the vaccination process. Errors or reinfections are thus detected in good time.
But the fattener or fatteners must also be informed – at least when it comes to permanent partnerships. If the fattener wants vaccination to continue, reasonable vaccination supplements should be negotiated, which also include an appropriate wage rate for vaccination.
In a trusting partnership, the fattener also passes on valuable information from the organ diagnosis at the slaughterhouse to his piglet producers. In this way, respiratory problems are detected earlier and the success of your own deworming strategy can be checked immediately.