Posts Tagged ‘piglets’

The London Swine Conference YouTube channel has some great content, and more is being added. The latest is Dr. Chantal Farmer, AAFC, speaking at the 2019 conference on ‘Maximizing Performance of the Sow’. Click here to watch: https://youtu.be/mUFZeCJmN18

The program for the 20th annual LSC, March 31-April 1 2020 will be coming soon. It will be a great conference so mark those dates in your calendar now. Click www.londonswineconference.ca for all the info you need.

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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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The following is from an Ontario Swine Health Advisory Board (OPIC) update:


OSHAB has included PED (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea) in the ARC&E (Area Regional Control and Elimination) format and has been working actively to initiate this program. Support for this program includes funding provided by Ontario Pork to advance on-farm actions in the control and elimination of PED and funding provided through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.

The PED ARC&E will enroll and map sites across all of Ontario with all PED positive sites encouraged to enroll. Diagnostic costs and some support for veterinary costs associated with monitoring, control and elimination at these sites will be supported by this program. The program will communicate about the status of these sites and information learned about control and elimination strategies. The goals of the PED ARC&E are: To contain and reduce the prevalence of PEDV from pig farms in Ontario.
Actions will include:
– Investigate current and new cases
– Request participation of these producers in the ARC&E program
– Identify and solve primary biosecurity gaps
– Develop a farm or system specific containment plan
– Develop a farm or system specific elimination plan
– Communicate with producers and the industry
To date, over 60 sites diagnosed as PEDV positive, or related by pig flow have enrolled in the PED ARC&E and efforts continue to enroll remaining sites. An OSHAB PED ARCE workgroup has been struck. All veterinarians who work with PED positive sites in Ontario are invited to participate in this workgroup.


To date, this group has:
– Reviewed sites enrolled and initiated data collection and mapping of the PED positive sites across Ontario
– Developed methods to track the progress of farrowing sites in return to production (for example analysis of pigs weaned per week to assess return to production)
– Developed sampling criteria to assess the status of sites as they work towards elimination
– Developed 3 research proposals submitted under the Ontario Pork call for proposals for Applied On-Farm Research Proposals related to Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus and Porcine Delta coronavirus. These proposals were related to development of control and elimination strategies for farrowing sites with growing pigs, development of strategies to enhance PEDV containment in positive growing pigs and assessment of the duration of PEDV antibodies in sows and growing pigs post-infection.

What do we know about the control and elimination of PED to date?
Work to understand PED control and elimination has been underway in the U.S. and the knowledge base in Canada is growing.

Ontario Progress

To date, we have had:
– two successful PED elimination in all in all out nurseries with subsequent fill remaining PED negative following barn clean and disinfect
– one successful PED elimination in an all in all out finisher with subsequent fill remaining PED negative following barn clean and disinfect
– one successful Delta coronavirus elimination in a sow herd based on a herd depopulation
– one successful sow site PED elimination, also based on a herd depopulation
– a number of nursery and finisher sites working on PED elimination over the next two to three months

Information from the United States

The following information has been summarized from the American Association of Swine Veterinarians 2014 proceedings (Morrison, Goed and Connor)
– PEDV is highly infective with a 10-8 dilution of mucosal scrapings able to cause infection – this means approximately 1 pencil eraser of diarrhea diluted in 130 cubic yards can still cause infection, making fecal-oral the principle route of infection. As well, infective PEDV has been found in fecal slurry after >14 days at room temperature.
Message: stringent clean and disinfect protocols are essential
– Analysis of number pigs weaned per week suggests it takes 6 weeks on average to return to normal production at farrowing sites
– The majority of protection to piglets is expected to come for colostrum IgA antibodies; this is a passive immunity and will quickly reduce after weaning. These antibodies do not protect against infection with PEDV.
– Proximity to an infected site and size of herd may be factors that impact the risk of PEDV infection.
– Control of PEDV is not the same as elimination of PEDV and not eliminating the virus can result in the risk of repeated outbreaks of clinical disease.
– PEDV elimination at sow sites should be done in consultation with your veterinarian. Consideration of other disease issues in the herd is essential before initiating an elimination program.
– Work to date suggests the following actions are required to eliminate PEDV at sow sites:
o loading with replacement animals
o herd closure for a minimum of 3 months (and perhaps as long as 5 months)
o infection of the entire herd through feedback procedures
o strict all in all out and uni-directional flow of pigs and people
o strict sanitation and McRebel protocols
o do not introduce negative replacement animals until the flow is verified negative (testing and sentinels)
– Evidence suggests PEDV is more highly transmissible than PRRS, has a higher stability in the environment and shows lower levels of sow immunity. However, duration of clinical signs is dramatically shorter.

Updates and biosecurity tips will be issued regularly as we gain knowledge and experience in the control and elimination of PED in Ontario.

OSHAB ARC&E web page: opic.on.ca/biosecurity-resources/prrs-arc-e


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A new infosheet “PED Virus and Considerations for Manure Application”  is now available. The best way to address the spread of the PEDv and other pathogens is through preventive action and thorough biosecurity.  Anyone spreading manure has a role to play in reducing the risks of transmitting the virus.  For more information go to ontario.ca/swine

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An Industry Advisory from OMAF/MRA March 6:

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus

PEDv continues to be detected on farms and at processors, transporters and assemblers at a low level.  This indicates 1) the virus is still circulating and is an ongoing risk, and 2) it is being managed through the existing collective efforts and precautions. The cooperation of all levels of industry and government has been essential in minimising the impacts of PED to the Ontario pork industry.  Vigilance and strong biosecurity at the farm level, diligent cleaning and disinfection by transporters, renderers, processors and other service providers, and changes to the flow of animals have all resulted in a relatively small number of cases compared to many affected US states.

PED has become established in the United States, and other pathogens like Delta coronavirus present new threats.  The efforts made to prevent the spread of PED must continue as regular business practices as the industry manages these risks and moves forward. Growing Forward 2 and OMAF funding to Ontario Pork will continue to strengthen efforts in the areas of greatest risk and provide the necessary infrastructure and education to help meet these challenges.

PED is considered an emerging significant disease in Ontario, and veterinarians are still required to report suspect cases to OMAF under the Animal Health Act. OMAF will continue to cover the cost of diagnostic testing of clinical suspects at the Animal Health Laboratory until further notice, and will continue to offer support to veterinarians and their clients in the management of PED cases.

Testing of non-clinical or environmental samples is not encouraged and will not be covered by OMAF.  Such testing on its own does not give a valid indication of PEDv status and should not be used to inform decision-making by producers, veterinarians or service providers.  Conducting environmental testing as part of a monitoring program is at the discretion of individual businesses and sample submission should be discussed with the AHL.

For further information please contact the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food at 1-877-424-1300, or Ontario Pork at 1-877-ONT-PORK.

Resources on PED prevention and management are available from OMAF at www.ontario.ca/swine.

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A release from the London Swine Conference yesterday www.londonswineconference.ca.

Note the Registration deadline is March 14th. Contact 519-873-4077 or debra.allison@ontario.ca

For Immediate Release…

  “14th London Swine Conference (LSC) moves to Hilton”

 London ON, March 4, 2014 – The theme is “Positioning for Success” as the pork industry prepares to gather in London for the fourteenth annual LSC.  These two full days of presentations and workshops have moved to the Hilton London for Wednesday and Thursday, March 26 & 27, 2014.  Speakers will cover topics ranging from practical on-farm decision making and management to the impacts of international trade on pork production.

 “I am excited about the timely topics with something for everyone” says conference Chair Teresa Van Raay.  The program will once again be targeted for sow herds on Wednesday, and wean to finish on Thursday.  “With speakers from across the continent and a new venue I am looking forward to seeing everyone at this premier swine industry conference.”

Wednesday’s Sow-focused agenda will include ‘Lessons Learned from PEDv’, along with experts in the areas of group sow housing, nutrition and lactation, and Ontario’s position in the global marketplace.  At the farm level, workshops will consider piglet and milk management, reproductive troubleshooting, feeding the sow, and practical aspects of  group sow housing.

On Thursday, the focus is on Wean to Finish.  Topics such as real factors that affect profitability, the importance of international trade to Ontario production, and national health status monitoring will be covered.  Farm level workshops will include managing pile-ups, benchmarking and measuring profitability on-farm, spotting problems early, higher fiber diets, and improving feed efficiency.

As always, the LSC program will include leading researchers, industry experts and pork producers.  This unique mix of perspectives provides new insights and can lead to lively workshop discussions.  Presenters this year will include:  Steve Pollmann, Murphy Brown West; Doug MacDougald, South West Ontario Veterinary Services; Chris Byra, Canadian Swine Health Intelligence Network; Ron Bates, Michigan State University; Laurie Connor, University of Manitoba; Chantal Farmer, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Ruurd Zijlstra, University of Alberta; Kevin Grier, George Morris Centre; Graeme McDermid, Cronin Pork Ltd.; Kathleen Sullivan, Trade Consultant.

For a listing of all conference speakers and the full program visit:  www.londonswineconference.ca

Conference fees are $135 per day which includes one copy of the proceedings, a reception on Wednesday, lunch and all coffee breaks.  Discounts are available for groups of five or more who register and submit one payment.  Registration deadline is March 14, 2014.  Please note that there is no registration at the door.

The London Swine Conference is a joint effort by staff from Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs (OMAF and MRA), Ontario Pork, University of Guelph, Ontario Pork Industry Council, and is made possible through strong industry sponsorship.


 For more information:

Debra Allison, Registration Coordinator, OMAF and MRA, (519) 873-4077, Debra.Allison@ontario.ca, www.londonswineconference.ca

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The following is from a CFIA email update distributed yesterday:

Update: Canadian Food Inspection Agency Investigation into Feed as a Possible Source of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED)

March 3, 2014: Scientific testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) cannot confirm a link between feed containing blood plasma and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) cases in Canada.

The study demonstrated that the porcine blood plasma in question contained PED virus capable of causing disease in pigs. However, the study could not demonstrate that the feed pellets containing the blood plasma were capable of causing disease.


Mise à jour : Enquête de l’Agence canadienne d’inspection des aliments à l’effet que des aliments du bétail pourraient être la source de la diarrhée épidémique porcine (DEP)

Le 3 mars 2014 : Les analyses scientifiques effectuées par l’Agence canadienne d’inspection des aliments (ACIA) ne permettent de confirmer l’existence d’un lien entre les aliments du bétail contenant du plasma sanguin et les cas de diarrhée épidémique porcine (DEP) signalés au Canada.

L’étude a démontré que le plasma sanguin de porc visé contenait le virus de la DEP pouvant causer la maladie chez les porcs. Cependant, l’étude n’a pas permis de conclure que les aliments granulés contenant le plasma sanguin pouvaient causer la maladie.


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The complete proceedings of the 33rd Centralia Swine Research Update, held January 29th, are now available online at www.centraliaswineresearch.ca. Besides the presented topics, the proceedings contain more than twenty written contributions.

The meeting was well-attended and generated many favourable comments on everything from the great presentations to the pie.

Centralia 2014 logo small The Centralia Swine Research Update was initiated in 1982 by staff at Centralia College to bring researchers and their work together with participants in the pork industry. The event continues to be planned and executed by a committee of industry partners, with support from staff at OMAF and MRA. Its success over the past three decades is due to the quality and timeliness of the program, and the participation of local researchers and experts, as well as experts brought in from other areas.

This year’s program was a great example of this, with Dr. Yolande Seddon from the Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatchewan visiting to speak on ‘Sow Lameness, Being Aware and Taking Action’ and ‘Considerations for Providing Quality Space to Loose Housed Sows’.  Dr. Kees de Lange from the University of Guelph talked about ‘Entire Males for Commercial Pork Production’.  Frank Wood from Conestoga Meat Packers addressed hernias from a packers’ perspective. To round out the program, researchers and graduate students covered in-transit losses, antimicrobial resistance, rodenticide ingestion, genetic resistance to disease, benchmarking Ontario farms, anorexic piglets, and the impact of nursery diets on piglet immune response. Finally, Dr. Mike DeGroot from Ontario Pork gave an update on the evolving PED situation.

For advisory notices, and for regularly updated links to information and resources for the industry related to PED, visit Ontario.ca/swine.

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The impact of PED on nursing pigs is well known.  But producers often ask “What about weaned pigs?” The following answer is from the OPIC PED resources website:

Once pigs are weaned, the mortality rate from PED virus plummets. When not complicated by other diseases, pigs in nursery-finisher stages generally recover in about a week. The rumors of severe disease or high mortality in weaned pigs usually involve co-infections with salmonella or hemolytic E. coli or other risk factors associated with the environment or feeding practices.

1. PED virus acting alone should not be a large contributor to mortality in weaned pigs; PED virus would be expected to rob 3-7 days in growth and performance measures.

2. Consult a veterinarian and get an accurate diagnosis if disease impact is greater than expected. There likely are other factors contributing.

Note: For updates, advisories, and PED resources, visit www.ontario.ca/swine

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If PED does get onto a farm, the first question is: “What can I do to decrease the impact?” The following answer comes from the OPIC PED resources website:

Always consult a veterinarian for current advice since the “best practices” for PED virus control are still evolving. Useful concepts derived from control of a similar disease, transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE), suggest:

1. Expose all sows to the virus as rapidly and uniformly as possible to establish “herd immunity” as quickly as possible.

2. Wean piglets early/as soon as possible: Maldigestion and osmotic impact of milk diet will worsen diarrhea and dehydration.

3. Provide water, electrolytes, alternative nutrition and supportive care.

Take home messages:

1. No one knows what the impact of PED virus will be this fall, winter or in the coming year(s). Stay informed and communicate with your herd veterinarian.

2. Scrupulously executed biosecurity practices at sow farms will be critical to prevent introduction of PED virus. Anything that has been near a pig or pig feces is a potential source of introduction of virus. Biosecurity practices likely will need to be modified; PED virus is not the same as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus.

3. If PED virus strikes a sow farm, exposure of all sows for rapid herd immunity and the early weaning of suckling piglets may save lives.

4. Mortality due to PED virus in postweaned pigs is not severe unless there are co-infections or other risk factors at play. Accurate diagnosis of bacterial co-infections and risk factors will aid in implementation of necessary and timely interventions.

Note: For updates, advisories, and PED resources, visit www.ontario.ca/swine

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