A TECHNICAL PERSPECTIVE ON HERD HEALTH PROGRAMS

 

Pig health routinely becomes part of the discussion when producers are looking for improved performance of their populations. Whether it is an old bug recurring in a herd or an emerging pathogen, the cycle seems to continue time and time again: assess, change and assess again.

Swine health programs are ever evolving to keep up with various diseases, but the most impactful programs improve animal health and have a return on investment. As an example, the newer tools in the toolbox for Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (Mhp) have allowed producers to refine their swine health programs.

When it comes to herd health programs, where do we start?
Don’t take co-infections for granted. Mhp causes a chronic, persistent cough and affects production performance through increased morbidity, reduced feed efficiency and growth rate. Alone, Mhp may cost less than $1.00 per pig. However, it becomes more costly — upwards of $10 per pig — when complicated with one or more co-infections such as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) or influenza (IAV). As those pathogens continue to evade updates in biosecurity, creatively working for solutions against “old” co-infection pathogens can provide a glimmer of hope in pig health and performance.
Determine the goal status. If a producer elects to minimize the growing/marketing impact from Mhp there are two pathways: control or elimination. To make that decision there are several factors to take into account:
    Area risk
    Biosecurity
    Replacement gilt population
    Disease history
    Timing
    Costs
    Prioritization of flow diseases


Ultimately, correlation of these factors with the producers’ system and your breeding herd goals must align to decide a path forward.
Never forget your gilts. Most breeding stock companies today provide a Mhp negative replacement female, so your end goal for the herd will drive the plan for the gilts. Mhp’s unique shedding components drive some complexity with controlled exposure plans. However, it is manageable, especially when a breeding herd receives young replacement gilts. Alternatively, if a breeding herd status goal is Mhp negative, then the replacement gilt population and health assurance strategies come into play.
Unfortunately, diagnostic tools for Mhp are not as easy to execute like those used to test for other common viruses (ie. oral fluids). Cost, labor and sensitivity throughout a population by using tracheobronchial swabs continues to improve over time, so as producers’ risk tolerance for Mhp changes, their health assurance program will continue to alter over time.

Using Mhp as an example, these three principles are applicable to most swine health programs. Embracing new technology, eliminating diseases and becoming creative with alternative management strategies to improve animal health should be at the core of producers' minds. This is certainly center to the Acuity evaluation of the genetic platform being built.
Technical Expert: Amy Maschhoff, DVM, Associate Director of Health at The Maschhoffs
Amy is the Associate Director of Health at The Maschhoffs. She has been with The Maschhoffs for 6 years since earning both her Bachelor of Animal Sciences and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees at the University of Illinois. In her role, Amy plays an integral role in evaluating and managing herd health. Her input is critical to determining health status and health goals for Acuity genetics.
Connect with Amy
Acuity was created in response to a need for genetic improvement with a systems-based focus. For nearly a decade, our technical team has worked to develop a platform capable of delivering solutions that increase profitability throughout the supply chain. Our focus is different: commercially-derived data supports decisions that enable value realization.
Build on a better foundation at www.acuityswine.com.