Boehringer Ingelheim (BI)has started working with swine producers across the country to help implement Infection/Prevention Chain™ into their herds as a systematic approach to disease control. It is used to identify pathogen transmission patterns so that disease can be targeted at the point of infection in the herd, and can be applied to almost all infectious diseases.
“The take-home message is that the INFECTION/PREVENTION CHAIN concept is a tool for swine disease management, using a whole-herd approach to deliver a vaccine-ready pig to the wean-to-finish barn,” says Eduardo Fano, DVM, Ph.D., swine technical manager for BI. “It encourages systematic interventions, and it is not just thinking about the individual piglet. It is thinking about the whole system.”
Figure 1. Infection/Prevention Chain™
Fano says that BI has been working with producers and veterinarians to start implementing the INFECTION/PREVENTION CHAIN tools within their systems. Brian Payne, DVM, with Pipestone Veterinary Services, Sycamore, Ilinois, has been applying the concept to the swine operations he helps manage.
“Our goal is to put out the healthiest young pigs that we can,” Payne says. “Those family farms that are receiving the pigs for their grow/finish units need them ready to be vaccinated so they can maximize their growth performance and profitability.”
Payne explains that they focus on several areas to help minimize pathogen transmission, including the prevention of disease instead of using treatments. He notes, “We’re trying to minimize the amount of antibiotics we need to use. The more we can prevent disease through biosecurity and vaccination, the healthier our pigs will be.”
Payne adds that having a solid biosecurity plan will help with disease prevention. “We focus on filtration, trucking, feedstuffs biosecurity, proactive testing on replacement animals, and gilt acclimation.”
In fact, gilt development is so important for Pipestone that it spent $1.1 million adding gilt development units (GDUs) to each of the five sow farms that Payne’s local office manages. “Prior to adding the GDUs, these farms were receiving gilts that were already bred, weren’t acclimated to diseases on the farm, and would come onto the farm at around 10 weeks’ gestation,” he says.
“They got sick, they would cough, and their piglet born-alive rates weren’t all that good,” Payne adds. “Then we built the GDUs. And now we buy all of our gilts at 3 weeks of age, so we have time to get them exposed to disease and bacteria that are present on the farm. History has shown that we’ll have much healthier pigs, and the sows will last longer on the farms.”
Using the whole-herd approach to fight disease
Payne remarks that the whole-herd approach to health can be complex. He offered one example of how they used the INFECTION/PREVENTION CHAIN to track disease back to the source. In the nursery, piglets were being challenged with porcine circovirus Type 2 (PCV2). There were no clear factors (vaccination compliance, co-infections, etc.) for disease presentation, so an investigation into the vertical transmission of the virus from sow to piglet was needed.
“We found that one of our five sow farms was unstable for circovirus. The other four farms were stable and were not transmitting circovirus. So we took action and mass-vaccinated the unstable sow farm, and we are continually following its progress.”
Payne believes there are no substitutes for getting healthy, weaned pigs ready for the finishing barns. Healthy pigs reduce the number of antibiotics needed, and decrease variability within the barn.
“We are developing more tools to help create this sustainable health program,” Fano concludes. “We are facing very complex, communicable problems, so we need to design a complex approach. Every single step in the INFECTION CHAIN and in the PREVENTION CHAIN is important to developing a healthy, vaccine-ready piglet heading to the finishing barn.”
Infection Chain and Prevention Chain are trademarks of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. ©2017 Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. POR-0596-3FLX0917