Article Text

Medicated early weaning to obtain pigs free from pathogens endemic in the herd of origin
  1. TJ Alexander,
  2. K Thornton,
  3. G Boon,
  4. RJ Lysons and
  5. AF Gush

Abstract

A field trial was conducted to assess the value of medicated early weaning for obtaining pigs free from some of the pathogens endemic in their herd of origin. The trial comprised 51 sows from a closed herd, which were farrowed in an isolated farrowing house in seven separate groups. The sows in each group were bred at the same time and induced to farrow on the same day. Their thriftiest piglets were weaned at five days of age and moved to an isolated early-weaning unit. At about six weeks of age they were moved to one of three isolated grow-out units where they were held to slaughter weight. Sows in five of the groups were dosed with high levels of tiamulin and trimethoprim-sulphonamide preparations from their entry into the farrowing house until their biggest piglets were weaned. Their piglets were dosed with similar drugs from birth until 10 days of age. The first and seventh groups of sows and their litters were not medicated. Tests were carried out on pigs aged five to 11 weeks, on slaughter pigs, and on pigs which died or were killed at different ages, for Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, Bordetella bronchiseptica and colonic treponemes, which were readily detectable in the herd of origin. No evidence could be found of mycoplasma or bordetella. Colonic treponemes were recovered from some of the pigs at slaughter, but not from younger pigs. Thirty-seven boars and gilts from the medicated groups were introduced into 11 herds thought to be free of enzootic pneumonia and 13 were introduced into three herds which had enzootic pneumonia. No subsequent signs of enzootic pneumonia were noted in 10 of the enzootic pneumonia-free herds.

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