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Veterinary Record 171:123 doi:10.1136/vr.100413
  • Research
  • Papers

Pig-shed air polluted by α-haemolytic cocci and ammonia causes subclinical disease and production losses

  1. P. Stott, BVSc, MSc, PhD, Dip Ed1
  1. School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Roseworthy Campus, Roseworthy SA 5371, Australia
  2. South Australian Research and Development Institute, Roseworthy Campus, Roseworthy SA 5371, Australia
  1. E-mail for correspondence Dr P. Stott, e-mail: philip.stott{at}adelaide.edu.au

There is mounting evidence that bacteria originating from pigs degrade the environment of the pig shed and adversely affect the health of the animals and the pig-shed workers. α-haemolytic cocci (AHC) occur in pig-shed environments, but are regarded as commensals. Ammonia is also a component of the pig-shed environment, and is known to damage upper respiratory tract epithelia. The aim of this study was to determine whether polluted air in pig sheds adversely affected performance indicators in pigs. Modelling revealed a direct effect of AHC on voluntary feed intake and hence AHC are not commensal. No direct effect of ammonia on the pigs was detected, but the combination of AHC and ammonia stimulated the immune system in a progressive manner, and there were direct effects of immune stimulation on food intake and growth resulting in poorer feed-conversion efficiency, even though the effects remained subclinical. The authors conclude that exposure of the respiratory epithelia of pigs to viable AHC in the presence of ammonia redirects nutrients away from production and towards the immune system, explaining the impact of poor pig-shed hygiene on production parameters.

Footnotes

  • Provenance not commissioned; externally peer reviewed

  • Accepted March 21, 2012.
  • Published Online First 15 June 2012

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