The economics of a Pig, by Dr. Joel Nerem from Pipestone Veterinary Clinic

What does disease cost?  It ultimately depends on what disease (or diseases) your pig farm is challenged with – but disease has a cost and it can be measured in dollars and cents.  Dr. Adam Schelkopf described it another way when he talked about the “Health Tax”.  Every pig farmer pays this “tax”.  Some pay a little and some pay a lot.  How much do you pay?  What health “tax bracket” are you in?

The cost of PRRS virus to US farmers is probably the most well-known/quantified of disease agents.  A 2015 study estimated it at $664 million per year or approximately $4.67 per pig on average across the USA. That number is probably well above that now with the impact of the PRRS 1-4-4 L1c virus.  Either way, that cost is not evenly distributed across all farms/pigs in the USA.  If your sow farm source is PRRS positive and/or consistently gets new PRRS infections, you are definitely in the higher health tax bracket = “paying more than your fair share”.  PRRS status of pig source has one of the biggest impacts on wean to market performance of all diseases.  Disease status for Mycoplasma hyopneumonia, influenza virus, and many bacterial diseases will also bump you into the next tax bracket.

So what should you do – where do you start?  I recommend working with your Pipestone Veterinary Services veterinarian to determine what your farm’s specific challenges are and what options are available to reduce your disease burden.  Depending on the specific disease challenges, your vet can help prioritize and recommend interventions that might include:

  • Vaccination strategies
  • Disease elimination projects
  • New pig sources
  • Pig flow/system design changes
  • All in – All out production
  • Depopulation/Repopulation

At the end of the day, we at PIPESTONE believe the highest health farms/systems will win the race on profitability. Contact your Pipestone Veterinary Services veterinarian today – let us help you reduce your “Health Tax” burden.