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High health herd helps Finnish producers tackle tail biting challenge

Focusing on running high-health herds and lowering stress levels is helping hog farmers in Finland prevent tail biting in non-docked pigs.

Taneli Tirkkonen of Atria Pork, Finland’s largest pig processor, said good health and ample amounts of space help limit stress, reports Farmers Weekly.

By strictly managing the herds in their integrated business, farms in their system had limited tail biting to about 2.5% of pigs, with the problem responsible for just 0.3% of mortality.

Tirkkonen said there are five factors their producers were focusing on to keep stress levels low, including feeding space, enrichment material and high-quality feed.

“Most pigs are on a restricted liquid feed and all pigs can eat at the same time, which removes competition from feeders,” he said.

“They have 32 to 35kg trough space per pig, and are fed 3 to 6 times a day. There is also more than average drinker space, with one drinker for every 10 pigs.”

Giving weaners plenty of space and excellent animal health is also important, with producers vaccinating for very little as they have eradicated disease.

In Finland 99% of herds are specific pathogen free (SPF) and are negative for PRRS, salmonella, Aujetzky, Sarcoptic mange, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, swine dysentery and atrophic rhinitis, he added.

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Posted on August 14, 2019

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High mortality in nursery pigs is often seen in herds positive for the PRRS virus, but can vaccination of viremic neonatal pigs — pigs carrying the virus — help reduce mortality when they go to the nursery?

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