Due to PRRSv and PEDv, winter is often the time of year we start to see an increased number of health-challenged pigs. Of course, along with the increased number of sick pigs comes an increase in mortality. The following are some pig-care tips we’d like to share that can help make the best of a bad situation.
Increase the setpoint and keep them warm
- Feverish pigs require a warmer environment to stay comfortable. Use the pigs’ behavior as your gauge and continue to increase the setpoint until they stop piling and lay comfortably. Remember the last time you were sick with a high fever grabbing multiple blankets and upping the thermostat? Pigs battling viral disease are the same way.
- It’s important to have a very palatable diet for sick pigs to make the wean transition. Mix only enough gruel to last 2 hours, then give them fresh. Provide 1 gruel bowl per 25 head. Since there’s often a high number of feverish pigs scattered throughout the barn/room, it’s best to gruel all pens rather than just the bottom end. Products such as Tonisity® and Proteolyte® can be used to enhance gruel and make it more appetizing.
Chore multiple times a day
- Again, remember the last time you were sick and laying on the couch? Sometimes, all it takes is someone getting you up and moving to start feeling better again. It’s the same with pigs. Getting the pigs up to eat and drink 6, 8, or more times per day with light mat feeding can impact getting those pigs started.
Superior starter feed
- Having a highly palatable feed is very critical for challenged pigs while they transition from a diet of milk to corn and soy. Work closely with your nutritionist for the optimal starter program for challenged pigs.
- Talk with your Swine Vet Center veterinarian for the correct choice of a mass preventive antibiotic at weaning. Health challenged pigs that start poorly on feed and water post-weaning respond better to an antibiotic injection at weaning vs. relying on a feed or water antibiotic.
Adequate mat and brooder space
- This is important in all cold-weather wean groups, but even more critical in health-challenged lots. Ensuring 0.4 sq ft/pig of mat space and adequate brooder coverage of all pigs will help give the “pillow and blanket” needed to help keep health-challenged pigs comfortable.
Biosecurity – contain it!
- While your site or sites may be the recipient of health-challenged pigs, keeping it out of other sites and from spreading within your system will minimize its impact. Adhering to strict clean/dirty lines and following proper biosecurity guidelines are key!
- Keep in close contact with your SVC veterinarian and production team on day-to-day changes. With PRRSv impacting the immune system, secondary infections can be very severe and need to be dealt with as timely as possible.
Ventilation tips to save on LP
Insulated curtains or foil insulation
- Utilizing insulated curtains or foil insulation to increase the R value of exterior walls is a great first step in saving LP. This includes side curtains and/or tunnel curtains for young pigs. Make sure to leave a 1 foot gap if these are your emergency drop curtains.
- Most sites will cover all fans except the 1st stage wall fan and emergency fan. Options include permanent covers that exchange with the fan louvers, heavy plastic inside the louvers, fan chute covers, and fan socks. Fan socks are another option for fans if you do not want to permanently cover but still wat to prevent backdrafts.
Proper minimum ventilation settings
- Work closely with your production team or SVC veterinarian to provide adequate minimum ventilation for the size of pits in your barn. Remember the goal of minimum ventilation is to have proper air exchange and mixing to remove ammonia, CO2, and humidity while exchanging oxygen.
Cover/fix non-intentional inlets
- Fix any areas of your barn that are acting as unintentional inlets or leaks. Space under and around doors, holes in curtains, broken inlets, etc. are examples of these leaks. These require an increase in minimum ventilation to achieve the same amount of air mixing which in turn increases the heat/LP usage for the barn.
Partially closing inlets
- In cold weather ventilation, consider closing 1/2 of the inlet openings with inlet clips to achieve proper air speed and mixing. This can help optimize your minimum ventilation and air exchange.
- As allude to above, zone heating gives the pigs a warm “pillow and blanket” effect in the “bedroom” of the barn and allows you to reduce overall set point of the room.
- Ensure 0.4 sq. ft/pig of mat space and adequate brooder coverage of all pigs.
Focusing on these areas and others to decrease LP use will also help keep the barn temperature more consistent throughout the barn. A more consistent temperature with less swings will also lead to healthy pigs and a more productive turn.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year in 2020!
The goal of Swine Vet Center is to provide our clients with the very best in swine health and production services. We are thankful for your business and will continue to work hard to find solutions to challenges as they arise.
SVC is proud to be a production partner with you!
For more information, visit www.swinevetcenter.com
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