Challenges to reproductive performance in pigs
Pig farmers concerned about reproductive performance should speak to their vet about possible bacterial and viral challenges.
Although late abortion is an obvious sign of fertility problems, many sow herds experience low-level issues such as irregular returns, stillborn or weak piglets.
Infection with Leptospira bacteria may not cause obvious signs of illness, but the bacteria can remain in the kidneys and reproductive organs for up to two years. Groups of gilts or sows housed together are then at risk of further infection from urine or reproductive discharge.
Maureen Prendergast, Swine Technical Manager at MSD Animal Health, said: “The cost of low-level infertility is often under-estimated. Small litter size, low birth weight and increased pre-weaning mortality affect the bottom line and the cost of keeping empty sows or a high replacement sow rate also have an impact.”
Leptospirosis isn’t the only bacterial disease to impact herd fertility. Acute cases of erysipelas are commonly associated with arthritis and septicaemia, but abortions are often seen when breeding stock is infected.
Viruses such as PCV2 and PRRS are also known to affect fertility and Porcine Parvovirus can be especially devastating with abortion, mummified foetuses and neonatal death.
Thankfully many farmers commonly vaccinate against these diseases. A new product, Porcilis Ery+Parvo+Lepto from MSD Animal Health, protects against erysipelas, parvo and leptospirosis in a single vaccine.
Porcilis® Ery+Parvo+Lepto is suitable for use during pregnancy. Sows and gilts require an initial two-dose course followed by six-monthly or annual boosters depending on the individual farm health status.
Farmers and veterinary practitioners should discuss ways to use vaccination as part of a proactive approach to health management rather than having to rely on oral or injectable antibiotic treatment after they have identified the disease on their farms.
Farmers should discuss their vaccination regime with their vet who can also advise on improving sow fertility and on-farm biosecurity.
Further information is available from the SPC, your veterinary practitioner or MSD Animal Health, Red Oak North, South County Business Park, Leopardstown, Dublin 18, Ireland.