Sign up now!
Don't show this again
Sweepstakes Rules
Download the report!Continue to Site >
or wait 7 secs

Thank you for confirming your subscription!

(And remember, if ever you want to change your email preferences or unsubscribe, just click on the links at the bottom of any email.)

We’re glad you’re enjoying Pig Health Today.
Access is free but you’ll need to register to view more content.
Already registered? Sign In
Tap to download the app


Collect articles and features into your own report to read later, print or share with others

Create a New Report


Read Later

Create a new report

Report title (required) Brief description (optional)
follow us

You must be logged in to edit your profile.

Favorites Read Later My Reports PHT Special Reports
Pig Health Today is equipped with some amazing (and free) tools for organizing and sharing content, as well as creating your own magazines and special reports. To access them, please register today.
Sponsored by Zoetis

Pig Health Today | Sponsored by Zoetis

Featured Video Play Icon

Raising pigs without antibiotics? Plan to ‘sweat the small stuff’

Follow this rule if you’re raising pigs without antibiotics: “Sweat the small stuff.”

That’s the advice from Doug MacDougald, DVM, Southwest Ontario Veterinary Services, Ontario, for any farm that wants to eliminate antibiotics without compromising animal welfare and performance.

Reflecting on his experiences with one client, he said “no antibiotics ever” (NAE) production is tedious and challenging work.

‘Care trumps economics’

His client, Sunterra Farms, has 17,000 sows in production, including 9,000 that were initially used in its NAE program. The company ventured into NAE because it saw a potentially lucrative market, MacDougald said. At the same time, however, Sunterra went into the new production scheme with a firm commitment to animal welfare.

“Animal care trumps economics — always,” the veterinarian said in an interview with Pig Health Today.

But entering this new line of pork presented a few challenges for Sunterra. For one, they had to fight the perception among some employees that pigs placed into an NAE program couldn’t be treated when they fall sick.

“That was our initial challenge,” he explained, even though they thought they had made it clear that individual pig treatments were still an option. “So, that ended up being a culture change — where [you] think about individual animal care and treat the pig appropriately and handle it appropriately, to achieve great animal care.”

Difficult work

Other challenges included fine-tuning some on-farm processes, such as managing colostrum and intake, and addressing subtle differences in weaning ages and receiving protocols.

In sum, he said, raising pigs without antibiotics is not easy and requires a high level of commitment at all levels.

“Truly trying to reduce antimicrobial use, fine-tune management and maintain the same or higher production parameters and pig care and survivability is very hard work,” MacDougald said.

He added that it is important for the pork industry to approach NAE “as responsible antibiotic use, not no antibiotic use” and be prepared to use antibiotics responsibly when the need arises.

“We want to have the appropriate amount of antibiotics to treat pigs effectively,” he said.

Biosecurity critical

By far the biggest concern in raising pigs without antibiotics is maintaining and improving biosecurity, he said.

“Because if there is a major new introduction of a primary pathogen like (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome) or mycoplasma or (porcine epidemic diarrhea) virus, then all bets are off for a period of time because there’s simply sick animals,” he added.

MacDougald said the ongoing focus at Sunterra Farms is on identifying the primary bacterial pathogens that drive individual and, in some cases, population treatment. They want to understand those better, identify which ones are pathogenic and develop control measures for reducing the impact on pig health while minimizing the need for antimicrobial use, he said.

“We don’t have enough information on how to prevent some of the primary viruses or disease challenges that are introduced in the new herds,” he said, noting that viruses often lead to secondary bacterial infections requiring antibiotic therapy.

“And those [pathogens] drive antimicrobial use…because we need to effectively respond to pig health and pig welfare. So, we do and will need to use antibiotics in the future” even when the goal is NAE.





Posted on December 12, 2018

tags: , ,

You must be logged in to edit your profile.

Share It
Looking at individual “pieces of the puzzle” means farm owners can evaluate the pros and cons of Mycoplasma elimination programs and come to a practical solution, says veterinarian David A. Baumert.

Click an icon to share this information with your industry contacts.
Google Translate is provided on this website as a reference tool. However, Poultry Health Today and its sponsor and affiliates do not guarantee in any way the accuracy of the translated content and are not responsible for any event resulting from the use of the translation provided by Google. By choosing a language other than English from the Google Translate menu, the user agrees to withhold all liability and/or damage that may occur to the user by depending on or using the translation by Google.