• Ear, tail and skin lesions vary according to different production flows in a farrow-to-finish pig farm

      Diana, Alessia; Boyle, Laura; García Manzanilla, Edgar; Leonard, Finola C; Calderón Díaz, Julia A; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 14/S/832 (Biomed Central, 2019-07-15)
      Background Pig performance and risk of disease are associated with production flow. Given the link between health and welfare, it is likely that animal welfare indicators are also associated with production flow. This study investigated the association between production flow and tail, ear and skin lesions on a farm with a purported ‘all-in/all-out’ policy. This was an observational study whereby pigs were managed according to routine farm practice. A total of 1,016 pigs born within 1 week from the same batch were followed through the production stages and the presence or absence of welfare indicators was recorded at 4, 7, 9, 12, 16 and 24 weeks of age. Three production flows were retrospectively identified: flow 1 = ‘normal’ pigs that advanced through the production stages together ‘on time’, flow 2 = pigs delayed from advancing from the 1st to the 2nd nursery stage by 1 week and flow 3 = pigs delayed from advancing through the production stages by > 1 week. A nested case control design was applied by matching pigs by sow parity, number of born alive and birth weight. Results The presence of ear lesions was 4.5 less likely in pigs in flow 2 and 2.9 times less likely in pigs in flow 3 (P < 0.001) compared to pigs in flow 1. Pigs in flow 3 were 2.2 more likely to have tail and 1.6 times more likely to have ear lesions (P < 0.001) compared to pigs in flow 2. Pigs in flow 2 were less likely to have tail lesions compared with pigs in flow 1 (P < 0.05). Differences between production flows for the risk of skin lesions varied according to age (P < 0.05). Conclusion All production flows were associated with a high risk of lesions which raises concerns for pig welfare. However, risks for ear, tail and skin lesions varied according to each production flow likely due to the specific management practices inherent to each flow. Results from this study could be used to modify existing management practices, thus leading to improvements in animal welfare and possibly performance in intensive pig systems.
    • Using the Biocheck.UGent™ scoring tool in Irish farrow-to-finish pig farms: assessing biosecurity and its relation to productive performance

      Rodrigues da Costa, Maria; Gasa, Josep; Calderón Díaz, Julia A; Postma, Merel; Dewulf, Jeroen; McCutcheon, Gerard; Manzanilla, Edgar G; Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine; 14/S/832 (Biomed Central, 2019-03-01)
      Background Biosecurity is one of the main factors affecting disease occurrence and antimicrobial use, and it is associated with performance in pig production. However, the importance of specific measures could vary depending on the (national) context. The aim of this study was to describe the biosecurity status in a cohort of Irish pig farms, to investigate which of those biosecurity aspects are more relevant by using the Biocheck.UGent™ scoring system, and to study the impact of such aspects on farm performance. Results External biosecurity score was high compared to most countries due to the characteristics of the Irish pig sector (i.e. purchasing only semen and breeding gilts on farm). The internal biosecurity score was lower and had greater variability among farms than other EU countries. Using multivariable linear regression, the biosecurity practices explained 8, 23, and 16% of variability in piglet mortality, finisher mortality, and average daily gain, respectively. Three clusters of farms were defined based on their biosecurity scores (0 to 100) using principal components and hierarchical clustering analysis. Scores for clusters 1, 2 and 3 were (mean ± SD) 38 ± 7.6, 61 ± 7.0 and 66 ± 9.8 for internal and 73 ± 5.1, 74 ± 5.3 and 86 ± 4.5 for external biosecurity. Cluster 3 had lower piglet mortality (P = 0.022) and higher average daily gain (P = 0.037) when compared to cluster 2. Conclusions Irish farms follow European tendencies with internal biosecurity posing as the biggest liability. Our results suggest that practices related to the environment and region, feed, water and equipment supply, and the management of the different stages, need to be addressed in lower performing farms to improve productive performance. Further studies on the economic impact of these biosecurity practices including complementary data on herd health, gilt rearing, piglet management, vaccination and feeding strategies are needed.