Tom Gillespie of Rensselaer Swine Services
Tom Gillespie of Rensselaer Swine Services outlined his methods for improving the health and immunity of a unit at Alltech's International Forum on Pork Production. The first step is to determine what pathogens are present. This requires time and good diagnostic work. Co-infection with two or more pathogens is very common today and this can complicate diagnosis. Once the pathogens are identified they must be prioritized based on their economic impact on production. The pathogen that is having the largest impact on the production of the unit is your "target".
Porcine respiratory disease complex (PRDC) is a very common problem for pork producers today. Many pathogens can contribute to PRDC. Gillespie discussed three common ones: Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, PRRS virus, and Porcine Circovirus type 2 (PCV2). Typically, PRRSv must be addressed before other PRDC pathogens can be controlled. Mycoplasma and PCV2 are very common and for most producers vaccines for these pathogens are the foundation of the animal health program.
Once the target pathogen is identified, its flow through the unit must be understood in order to devise a treatment strategy. In the case of Mycoplasm and PRRSv the dominant transmission route is vertical, so control must begin with the sow herd. Vaccination, antibiotic treatments and management changes may all be required to get the pathogen under control. Training workers on biosecurity is important as well.