High hog prices mean you can’t afford misses

Today’s high hog prices dictate a completely different mindset from a few months ago when an oversupply of hogs and low prices required cost-cutting measures.

“It’s gone from trying to save and get by to now where hogs are highly profitable so you can’t afford to miss,” reported Jordan Graham, DVM, Swine Vet Center, St. Peter, Minnesota.

“The margins are still fairly tight with corn prices as high as they are,” he added. “But when we miss out on selling a hog that is worth double what it was last year, it really hurts.”

Instead of looking at ways to cut costs, Graham says it’s time to reconsider health programs that weren’t economical at last year’s market prices. Some of those interventions may more than pay for themselves at current prices.

Shore-up vaccine strategies

“Reevaluate your vaccine strategies to make sure you are protected as much as possible from disease breaks” he said. “If you cut vaccinations now at the cost of a disease break or missing live born, then we are really shooting ourselves in the foot.

“If producers are partial-dosing, the savings gain might not be worth it if there’s any lapse in protection,” he added. “An example is ileitis prevention. Partial-dosing is done in the industry, and this would be a year where it probably does not pay because you run a higher risk of a breakdown in immunity.”

In addition, producers may also want to explore feed-additive options to improve feed conversion and average daily gain.

Treatment during outbreaks

“Being early and proactive on health challenges is extremely important this summer,” Graham said. “It’s almost certain any intervention that helps reduce mortality will pay for itself.”

For example, more aggressive treatment during a disease outbreak will likely be cost-effective.

Capital investments

“Take the opportunity while markets are good to take a second look at some capital investments that might have been cost prohibitive in the past,” Graham said.

For example, a sow-farm filtration system to minimize disease breaks may be a good investment right now.

Another potential investment area is adding space to your farm for proper gilt development. Graham said this will help increase total-born output of gilts by allowing adequate disease and housing acclimation. Gilts are the future of the farm, and investing in doing gilts right will pay dividends.

Biosecurity additions

Improvements in biosecurity to reduce disease outbreaks also may be worth the investment now, he added.

A couple of options include adding ultraviolet boxes for supply entry and building a compost facility to move away from rendering vehicles on the property.

This also may be the time to make capital improvements to truck washes. One example is adding thermo-assisted drying.

Taking advantage of the current market situation to make improvements now in herd health can pay off in the future when the market tightens up again, because as this past year has shown, markets can change fast.

“Last year I said we’d have low prices due to ample supply of hogs, and that’s turned on a dime this year,” Graham said.


Disinfectant fogged over pigs kills lingering pathogens

Two lingering cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) at different finishing units were frustrating Ross Kiehne, veterinarian with Swine Vet Center, St. Peter, Minnesota.

“These barns tested positive to PED before, but these were sites we wanted to use for gilts,” Kiehne explained. “We cleaned up the barns and utilized normal disinfectants. We put gilts back in there, but oral-fluid testing indicated the pigs were positive for PED.

“We didn’t see any clinical signs so we thought it might be an environmental contaminant. But we weren’t going to use the gilts as long as they were testing positive, even if we thought it was a false positive.”

Fogging allowed over pigs

A possible solution was a disinfectant that could safely be fogged into barns with pigs present. Kiehne had heard about preliminary university tests indicating a disinfectant called Zoono Microbe Shield was effective for many diseases on impact plus residual action for at least 7 days.

“It’s a fairly new disinfectant that you can apply right over the pigs,” he said. “I convinced the owner to spray with Zoono. We sprayed and tested multiple times. The pigs tested negative every time, so we were comfortable using those gilts.”

If the product hadn’t worked, Kiehne’s client may not have been able to use the gilts. Or they needed to go through the process of moving the gilts out, cleaning and disinfecting again to try to achieve negative tests.

“What I like about Zoono is it is very safe and can be sprayed with pigs in the barns,” Kiehne said. “And the 7 days of residual action is very significant. All other disinfectants kill on impact only and offer no other action.”

Since the success with clearing PED from the finishers, Kiehne has fogged the disinfectant in rooms with pigs from 3 to 4 days old up to sows, with no adverse effects.

Further testing

“We are trying to utilize this product more now for similar circumstances,” Kiehne said. “I think it was an environmental contaminate that was causing us some headaches with the PED tests. Now I’m going to do more testing over pigs for other diseases.”

In addition, more information on Zoono’s use in swine should be available soon from a study conducted by Derald Holtkamp, DVM, at Iowa State University. Holtkamp is evaluating Zoono and should have results later this summer.

Zoono kills ASF, COVID-19

Zoono’s disinfectant product has been thrust into the limelight the past few years after outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) and COVID-19 in China. The product developed by Zoono Group Limited, a New Zealand company, kills ASF and COVID-19 on contact and offers residual action up to 30 days for some pathogens, according to information on its website.

Key to the product’s success is the Zoono Microbe Shield that forms a bond with surfaces to inhibit growth of microbes. The EPA-approved product is safe for humans and animals because it uses a technology to kill the microbes without dangerous chemicals.

Companies like United Airlines now use Microbe Shield to provide a layer of protection in the passenger cabins on everything from seats and tray tables to lavatories.

For more information on Zoono, visit www.apiamsolutions.com.