Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Looking for information on enrichment for pigs?  Laura Eastwood, OMAFRA Swine Specialist has written a helpful article Enrichment for Pigs that summarizes  ‘Section 1.8 Enrichment’ from the Code of Practice.

penning with pig toys attachedDSCF5988

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The clinical signs of Senecavirus A can resemble some swine vesicular foreign animal diseases. If clinical signs are seen at border crossings, this can prevent export and if clinical signs are seen at abattoirs (cull sows or market hogs), this can result in temporary shutdown of processing.

The following document has been prepared by Swine Health Ontario and can assist you in identifying the clinical signs associated with Senecavirus A and provide recommended actions if clinical signs are seen.



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Cooler temperatures are on the way, and it is important to review your biosecurity practices and procedures on farm.  Whether it is PED or other pathogens, ensuring strict on-farm biosecurity protocols will help you prevent infection and keep your pigs healthy.

Proper biosecurity measures should include protocols that address animal, supply and personnel movements. Take the time to review the policies and procedures with staff, highlighting the importance of biosecurity for your herd.

Set up Controlled and Restricted Access zones on your property, and make sure they are well signed to prevent non-authorized entry.

When it comes to farm access, all vehicles should be clean and free from manure. If a vehicle has been at another farm site, make sure it is washed properly before arriving. This is especially true for trucks and trailers. Ensure clothing and footwear coming on site is clean and has not been on other farms, and make use of a visitor log book to track who has been on your property and when.

At a minimum, set up and use a Danish Entry or other comparable system with a hand wash station for any personnel movement in and out of the barn. Designated boots and clothing should be available and used. Where possible, make use of a shower in/shower out system. Do not wear barn clothing or boots outside.

When bringing in supplies and equipment take appropriate precautions such as disinfection and removal from shipping boxes where appropriate. Ensure you have an effective rodent and pest control program in place, and use screens for bird control. Do not allow pets in barns as they can also be a vector for disease transfer.

Although the cold and snow are fast approaching, don’t let your biosecurity guard down. Be vigilant and keep your herd protected and healthy!


Detailed information on biosecurity practices and procedures can be found on the OMAFRA livestock website at http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/swine/health.html.

Biosecurity ‘STOP’ signs and visitor log books can be ordered by contacting the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

For more information, contact:
Laura Eastwood, Ph.D
Swine Specialist, OMAFRA



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This year’s theme of the London Swine Conference is “A Platform for Success”. Join us April 5-6 at the Double Tree by Hilton in London, Ontario.

April 5th – Sow Topics:

  • Parity 3 Roadblock
  • Optimizing Loose Housing
  • The Modern Sow: Top Production Issues
  • Pushing the Boundries of AI Technology
  • Managing the Health Status of the Sow
  • Practical Loose Sow Management
  • Gilt Management, Physiology and Sow Longevity
  • Solutions to Productivity Challenges

April 6th – Wean to Finish Topics:

  • Getting Ready for the Next Disease
  • Antimicrobial Resistance: Myths and Realities
  • Early Nursery Nutrition
  • Behind the Numbers of Finishing Barn Management
  • Options to Crontrol Post-Weaning Diseases
  • Liquid Feeding
  • Feeding for Carcass Value

Other Topics Include:

  • The Agriculture Manifesto – Day 1
  • Managing Generational Expectations – Day 1
  • Changing Business Structure of the North American Hog Industry – Day 2
  • Sustainable Intensification – Day 2


Register now at www.londonswineconference.ca

2016 LSC promo 1

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Weaning is considered to be one of the most stressful times in a pig’s life due to multiple stressful changes occurring at the same time. When weaned, piglets are exposed to 3 major types of stressors; environmental (moved to a new location), social (removed from the sow and mixed with unfamiliar pen mates) and nutritional (changed from liquid to solid feed). Combined, these stressors can trigger an immune response in the animals, which contributes to the post-weaning growth lag we often observe. The post-weaning growth lag is characterized by piglets going off feed and showing no or negative weight gain for the first 24-48 hours after weaning, which results in increased disease susceptibility and mortality rates.

There are several strategies that can be employed by producers to help mitigate the post-weaning growth lag. One strategy is the use of creep feed prior to weaning. Creep feed is (usually) a highly digestible feed, offered for one to two weeks prior to weaning. Creep feeding is thought to benefit piglets by 1) introducing piglets to solid feed prior to weaning, 2) providing supplemental nutrition to piglets beyond their mother’s milk, and 3) aiding the gastrointestinal tract to adapt to nutrients not found in milk.

Recent research from the Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatoon has shown that less than 40% of piglets within a litter consume creep feed when it is offered in a standard round creep feeder. When piglets were offered creep feed for one week prior to weaning, only 35% of piglets weaned at 4 weeks of age ate creep feed, and less than 5% of piglets weaned at 3 weeks of age consumed creep feed. However, regardless of weaning age, piglets that actually consumed creep feed had improved weaning and nursery exit weights.

Identifying effective ways to encourage creep feed intake in piglets can have significant impacts on pig performance and health, as well as overall profitability. Piglets that cope with weaning stresses and do not experience the post-weaning growth lag are less susceptible to disease and have a reduced incidence of morbidity and mortality in the nursery. Strategies to increase creep intake often revolve around the form of the creep feed (i.e. pellet, mash, liquid) or on the type of feeder (i.e. round, tray) used.

Piglets raised outside seldom experience the post-weaning growth lag. They generally consume starter feed quickly, and it is believed that because these piglets have ample opportunity to explore/ingest soil and plant material (such as acorns, corn and other large items), they are familiar with the process of consuming material prior to weaning. In addition to exploring an enriched environment when outdoors, these piglets often manipulate larger feed particles than a typical creep feed. Piglets raised indoors do not get this same opportunity for novel exploration, and creep feed pellet diameter is small (3 mm or less), due to the general opinion that smaller pellets stimulate feed intake in young pigs.

Over recent years, researchers from Canada and around the world have been working to determine the effects of altering management strategies on creep feed intake, and the potential to reduce the post-weaning growth lag and improve piglet performance.

In a series of experiments conducted by the Prairie Swine Centre (on research and commercial farms), piglets were offered creep feed in either a standard round feeder or a flat tray feeder. Litters with tray feeders had a greater frequency of feeder visits compared to those with standard round feeders. When individual pigs were monitored for creep feed consumption, over 50% of the litter showed evidence of consuming creep feed in the tray feeder groups, whereas less than 40% of the litter consumed creep feed when it was offered in a standard round feeder.

In another series of experiments conducted in the Netherlands (van den Brand, 2014), piglets were offered creep feed with larger pellet size (10 or 12 mm) compared to a standard (2 mm) pellet. When litters were given the choice of the small or large pellet, researchers found that piglets preferred the larger diameter pellet (350 g/litter/d higher intake of large pellets compared to small). When litters were offered one treatment (either small or large pellet size), creep feed intake was 650 g/d higher in litters offered large pellets. Additionally, the researchers also showed that piglets given large pellets before weaning had higher body weight gain and feed intake post-weaning.

Results from these research trials indicates that altering the way creep feed is presented to piglets can impact creep feed consumption. Providing creep feed in a flat, tray style feeder encourages social exploration, and in the Prairie Swine Centre trials, increased the percentage of piglets in a litter consuming creep feed by more than 10%. Using a larger pellet size also appeared to stimulate the social aspect of creep feeding, and increased creep feed intake and activity levels in piglets. In both sets of research, piglets that were provided creep using an alternative method (tray or increased pellet size), showed no evidence of the post-weaning growth lag.

Managing the newly weaned pig can be a challenge, but evidence suggests that we can improve piglet creep feed intake prior to weaning by making changes to how we offer the feed. It is important to have a good understanding of your current creep feed intake levels before making management changes, in order to see if any new strategies improve creep intake, or hinder it. For more information on creep feeding strategies, or how to benchmark current creep intake levels on your farm, please contact:

Laura Eastwood, Ph.D
Swine Specialist, OMAFRA

Large pellet creep feed

Large pellet creep feed


Creep feed offered in tray feeders

Creep feed offered in tray feeders

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Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for Southern Ontario. Before it hits is a good time to make sure your generator is ready to use if the hydro goes out. The OMAFRA Generic Checklist – PTO Driven Generator is a good resource for the things to think about. Including making sure you have enough fuel on hand.

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The Swine Expert Network of the OAHN has issued a quarterly report:

OAHN logoOntario Animal Health Network Swine Q4 2015 Producer Report


  • OAHN Swine Network Project to investigate weaned pig morbidity and mortality rates, the major causes of morbidity and mortality and to assess therapeutic interventions. Currently enrolling nurseries…
  • Influenza A virus detection is on the rise. News you need to know about this virus
  • *NEW OAHN Swine Network Podcast Series on Influenza A virus. Part I now available: www.oahn.podbean.com 
  • OVC Swine Research Findings on resistance genes & post-weaning anemia with regards to zinc oxide in feed rations
  • Information on how you can stay up to date with OAHN…

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