Improved survival rates are a welcome relief

Timmy Glesson farms a 1,200-sow unit in Ballymackie, Co. Tipperary. For the last few years, he has been concerned about mortality rates in his finishers.

“We noticed that when the young pigs went into the finishing unit, we would be getting deaths during the first couple of weeks,” explained Timmy. “My vet was able to post-mortem them and he explained to me that they showed signs of ileitis.”

Porcine ileitis is caused by the presence of the bacteria, Lawsonia intracellularis. The infection is typically associated with diarrhoea, but although young pigs can recover, their gut lining is permanently damaged, causing intestinal lesions and leading to ongoing reduction in feed conversion and growth rates.

“We previously tried an oral vaccine,” Timmy added, “but, although we saw some improvement in growth rates, we still had ileitis-associated deaths in the finishers. Thankfully our vet was able to recommend a new vaccine that is proven to reduce mortality.”

Improved survival rates

The new vaccine has been proven to reduce diarrhoea, loss of daily weight gain, intestinal lesions, bacterial shedding and mortality caused by Lawsonia intracellularis infection. It is given by intramuscular injection at around three weeks-of-age and offers 21 weeks’ immunity to growing pigs.

“I’ve got on brilliantly with it so far; very happy with it,” Timmy commented. The piglets are vaccinated for PCV and M. Hyo using the IDAL intradermal device and they receive a shot of the vaccine for Lawsonia on the other side of the neck at the same time.

As well as improved survival rates, Timmy has also noticed other benefits, including cleaner pens and fewer signs of stress in the young pigs, such as tail-biting. Batches of finished pigs are more even and he’s seeing a weight improvement of around 7kg/pig.

“The benefits have more than paid for the cost of the vaccine,” concludes Timmy. “I’m happy and my workers are very happy; that’s the most important thing.”

More information

Farmers should discuss their vaccination regime with their vet who can also advise on infection control and on-farm biosecurity.

Further information is available from your veterinary practitioner or MSD Animal Health, Red Oak North, South County Business Park, Leopardstown, Dublin 18, Ireland.

MSD Animal Health can be contacted at: 01-2970220; or emailed at: [email protected].