• Delaying pigs from the normal production flow is associated with health problems and poorer performance

      Calderón Díaz, Julia A.; Diana, Alessia; Boyle, Laura; Leonard, Nola; McElroy, Máire; McGettrick, Shane; Moriarty, John; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; et al. (Biomed Central, 2017-07-05)
      Background Delaying pigs from advancing through the production stages could have a negative impact on their health and performance. The objective of this study was to investigate the possible implications of delaying pigs from the normal production flow on pig health and performance in a farrow-to-finish commercial farm with a self-declared All-In/All-Out (AIAO) management. Results Three flows of pigs were defined, flow 1 (i.e. pigs that followed the normal production flow; 8 weeks in the nursery stage, 4 weeks in the growing stage and 8 weeks in the finisher stage), flow 2 (i.e. pigs delayed 1 week from advancing to the next production stage) and flow 3 (i.e. pigs delayed >1 week from advancing to the next production stage). Flow 3 included higher proportions of pigs from first parity sows and of lighter birth weights. When the 3 flows were matched by parity and birth weight, pigs in flow 2 were 3.8 times more likely to be lame prior to slaughter compared with pigs in flow 1. Similarly, pigs in flow 3 were more likely to be lame prior to slaughter, 4.5 times more likely to present pleurisy, 3.3 times more like to present pericarditis and 4.3 times more likely to have their heart condemned at slaughter compared with pigs in flow 1. Additionally, carcasses from pigs in flow 3 were 10 kg lighter compared with carcasses from pigs in flow 1. Conclusion Delayed pigs were more affected by disease and were lighter at slaughter. Besides animal welfare issues, these findings could represent considerable economic loses for pig producers. In practice, delaying pigs from the normal production flow translates into higher feeding costs, increase number of days to slaughter and increased labour requirements reducing production efficiency for the pig operation. In farrow-to-finish farms an ‘all-forward’ policy (i.e. no pig is left behind from stage to stage and a split marketing approach is applied when sending pigs to slaughter) might be more easily adhered to.
    • Removing prophylactic antibiotics from pig feed: how does it affect their performance and health?

      Diana, Alessia; Boyle, Laura; Leonard, Finola C; Carroll, Ciaran; Sheehan, Eugene; Murphy, Declan; Manzanilla, Edgar G; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2019-02-26)
      Background Antibiotics (AB) are an important tool to tackle infectious disease in pig farms; however some research indicates that their frequent mis/over-use may contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance and the WHO has declared that this issue should be addressed. Little is known about the long term consequences of withdrawing prophylactic AB from pig feed; hence we aimed to assess its effects on performance and health of pigs from weaning to slaughter. Six batches of 140 pigs each were monitored on a commercial farm through the weaner and finisher stages to slaughter. In-feed antibiotics were not added to the feed for half of the pigs (NOI) and were added in the other half (ABI) within each batch for the whole weaner stage. Individual pigs in both treatments were treated with parenteral administrations if and when detected as ill or lame. Productive performance, parenteral treatments and mortality were recorded on farm and the presence of respiratory disease was recorded at slaughter. Pen was considered the experimental unit. Results ABI pigs showed higher growth (P = 0.018) and feed intake (P = 0.048) than NOI pigs in the first weaner stage but feed efficiency was not affected (NOI = 1.48 vs. ABI = 1.52). Despite an initial reduction in performance, NOI pigs had similar performance in finisher stage (ADG: NOI = 865.4 vs. ABI = 882.2) and minimal effects on health compared to ABI pigs. No difference between treatments was found at the abattoir for the percentage of pigs affected by pneumonia, pleurisy, pleuropneumonia and abscesses (P > 0.05). Mortality rate was not affected by treatment during the weaner stage (P = 0.806) although it tended to be slightly higher in NOI than ABI pigs during the finisher stage (P = 0.099). Parenteral treatments were more frequent in NOI pigs during the weaner stage (P <  0.001) while no difference was recorded during the finisher stage (P = 0.406). Conclusions These data suggest that the removal of prophylactic in-feed antibiotics is possible with only minor reductions in productive performance and health which can be addressed by improved husbandry and use of parenteral antibiotics.