An attempt was made to compare the productivity and financial benefits of nursery depopulation on five large pig farms which were all part of one complex. Each farm had been experiencing poor post weaning performance for 12 months, and had previously been infected with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSv). A plan to depopulate each nursery sequentially was established, and the pigs were moved to fattening facilities on one of the farms (farm 3) where space was available. Over a four week period, the nurseries of farms 1, 2, 4 and 5 were emptied, cleaned and disinfected, and any changes in nursery performance, mortality and the seroprevalence of antibodies to PRRSV were then assessed for one year. The financial benefit to the entire farm complex was analysed by using partial budget methods. During the year a net benefit of $1,708,431 was assessed to the farm complex owing to the increased numbers of marketable pigs and the reduced antibiotic costs. There were highly significant improvements in nursery growth rate and decreases in mortality on farms 1, 2, 4 and 5, and antibodies to PRRSV were detected on farms 3 and 4 but not on farms 1, 2 and 5. The inability to empty the farm 3 fattening facility, which housed the pigs from the other sites, may have led to the maintenance of its PRRSV positive status and could have served as the source of virus for farm 4.
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