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Air quality, subclinical disease and animal production losses
  1. Jamie Robertson, BSc, MSc, MIAgrE
  1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Zoology Building, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK
  1. j.robertson{at}

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FRESH air. As with clean water, two words are used with great frequency to describe the most important nutrients for animal health and productivity. Two words with major impact on our livestock systems, but where the importance of the qualitative descriptor is often ignored. It is no surprise to be reminded that fresh air does not exist in intensive livestock housing. The dynamic mixture of aerosols and gases that flows through livestock building systems, and through the respiratory tracts of the livestock within, is not fresh air any more than the water in many of the drinker systems is clean water.

A study by Murphy and others (2012), summarised on p 123 of this week's Veterinary Record, describes the effect of components of pig house air on pig health and performance, and is a reminder to all of us involved with housed livestock of any species that the impact of environmental variables outside those described as pathogens can be considerable.

Their study focused on α-haemolytic cocci (AHC) that occur in pig-shed environments, and are regarded as commensals, and monitored the impact …

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