APP latest suiscide diseaseTwenty years ago, we experienced devastating outbreaks of what became known as "haemophilus pneumonia"-later changed to Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae pneumonia (APP).
Grow-finish pigs died in the tens of thousands over a five- to seven-year period in the late 1970s and early '80s. APP became a major factor in decisions to depop and start over with high-health stock in the 1980s.
Those who depopped and re-started with high-health stock certainly eliminated APP and made a clean new start. But just as we anticipated, by the late 1980s, among the diseases we started seeing in the new high-health herds was one that resembled APP. Diagnostic investigation revealed Actinobacillus suis (A. suis), a "new" disease that had several similarities to APP.
Pigs in repop and other high-health type herds are more subject to A. suis outbreaks, especially during their start-up phase. Furthermore, A. suis has become serious in some SEW and three- and multi-site production systems in the 1990s. Pigs entering conventional health herds from high-health herds can also develop A. suis disease. The catchy title "Suiscide Diseases" has been applied to Haemophilus parasuis, Strep suis and A. suis, all of which act in somewhat similar fashion to produce disease, especially in pigs in SEW systems.
Disease from A. suis can be categorized as follows:
Sucklers and recently weaned pigsS. Ernest Sanford, DVM, is a swine specialist with Boehringer Ingelheim in Burlington
Acute outbreaks of A. suis in sucklers usually occur as sudden death. On closer observation, individual pigs may be off-feed, feverish, panting and have hemorrhagic or dark blue areas on ears, feet, snout and underbelly. Only a few litters are usually affected at any one time, but mortality within affected litters can be very high. Signs in recently weaned pigs are similar, but a persistent cough sometimes occurs.
The grow-finish pig
Severe destructive pneumonia virtually identical to APP is the most common feature of A. suis disease in grow-finish pigs. Typically, pigs in the grower barn develop a cough with fever, and one or two may die. Postmortem then reveals the APP-like pneumonia. Bacteriological culture is absolutely necessary to differentiate clearly APP from A. suis. Eyeballing is not sufficient!
Breeding and mature animals
Sows, boars, gilts and late finisher pigs are included here. These animals may show some or all of off-feed, sluggishness, fever, red skin lesions (resembling erysipelas), abortion and, occasionally, sudden death. Disease in this group is easily mistaken for erysipelas when skin lesions are present.
Diagnosis, Treatment and Control
Culture of the bacterium (A. suis) is the only reliable way to diagnose conclusively this disease and ultimately differentiate it from APP (grow-finish pigs), erysipelas (mature animals) and septicemia (all age groups).
Although some A. suis isolates have developed resistance to tetracyclines, penicillin and other antibiotics, most remain sensitive to most available antibiotics. The difficulty with treatment continues to be the inability to identify and commence rapid injectable antibiotic treatment early enough: Many cases occur suddenly and may be gone as quickly as they came. Commercial vaccines are not available. Autogenous bacterins have been used successfully. A. suis first surfaced as a problem after we had made significant changes in our management systems, such as repops and SEW in the 1980s. Better control and elimination strategies will become available as we develop better diagnostics, understanding of its epidemiology and pathogenesis, and learn key management alternatives. These will occur if A. suis continues to threaten us as a major disease and forces us to develop the knowledge base to deal with it better.
Full boar! Vitamin regimen aids sperm countContinuing my series on boar nutrition, let's looks at the boar's need for selenium and vitamins E and C. These three nutrients all have similar function in the body - they maintain cell membrane integrity. The cell membranes of sperm are highly sensitive to damage, which may diminish sperm viability.
Selenium is a component of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which actively removes compounds from cells that damage cell membranes. Vitamin E, and to a lesser extent C, have a more passive role, acting more as a decoy.
Rather than damaging a cell membrane, these damaging compounds destroy a vitamin E molecule. It is repeated damage to cell membranes that shows up as Mulberry Heart disease in pigs.
A fair amount of research has demonstrated that the cell membranes of spermatozoa are highly sensitive to this type of damage, which lowers sperm viability. In instances of vitamin E or selenium deficiency, the incidence of cell abnormalities is higher.
Work at Ohio State University compared supplementation of selenium (0.5 ppm) and vitamin E (220 International Units/kg) in breeding boar diets.
Boars fed the non-fortified diets had sperm with lower motility and more bent tails. The sperm from these non-fortified boars were less successful at fertilizing eggs collected from mature gilts.
More importantly, levels of vitamin E and selenium in the semen were higher with the boars fed the fortified diets.
Levels of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) are higher in semen than in serum. Most work with vitamin C supplementation has been in association with heat stress in boars.
A 1985 study evaluated sperm number per ejaculate in heat-stressed boars that were provided with 300 mg per day of ascorbic acid. Sperm number per ejaculate increased in the ascorbic-acid supplemented boars, with response higher in the summer months than spring. See C the Results.
Andrew Pharazyn, PhD, is nutritionist with Shur-Gain in St. Marys.
Factory hog operations in North Carolina have taken their toll on more than the environment and moved on to academia. North Carolina State University sociologist Michael Schulman tells the following tale:
A medical student, an epidemiologist (studier of disease trends), a sociologist and an ag engineer visit a 20,000-sow operation to assess worker environmental conditions.
The med student lasts 30 seconds and comes out gasping that the environment is hazardous to the workers' health.
The epidemiologist stays in for two minutes, whereupon he emerges, saying that the repetitive motions and dust in the air will lead to worker injury.
The sociologist doesn't reappear for 20 minutes. Asked how he lasted so long, he replies: "Even though I knew pigs are the most intelligent animals, I knew I would have to give them at least 15 minutes to fill out the survey."
Finally, after 30 minutes, the ag engineer comes out and says, "Odour? What odour?"
File this one under "Only in England." Two pigs escape from a U.K. abattoir, go on the lam for six days, and are caught after a massive "ham" hunt, reports a recent Ontario Farm Animal Council newsletter.
Public outcry keeps them from heading back to the line, and the two porkers, "Butch" and "Sundance," are sent to an animal shelter. They have since found fame and fortune in their own children's TV series to air this year.
Puppets based on the pigs will promote vegetarianism, with the first promo already behind them - a guest appearance on breakfast TV panning National Bacon Week.
No word yet on whether the farmer gets royalties.
Look for a stronger meat packing industry in Quebec.
Pork packer Olymel, which took much of the recent Ontario Maple Leaf strike overflow, is merging with poultry processor Flamingo Foods.
The two companies, under the umbrella of the Quebec co-op Co-opérative Fédérée, will have sales of $1.2 billion and 5,800 employees, reports Quebec farm weekly Terre de Chez Nous.
Co-op Fédérée is Canada's top pork exporter and second largest pork processor.
Former Olymel boss Réjean Nadeau, who will take over the new company, says the merger will help the company compete more aggressively on world export markets.
Australian officials are using an old farm ploy to control a spiraling wild pig population that is threatening farmers' crops and livestock herd health.
The age-old practice of using a "Judas" member of the herd to lead the rest to slaughter has been adapted with some success by Australian wildlife officials trying to control wild pig herds, reports the Western Producer.
Wild pigs are captured, coddled, fitted with radio transmitters and released back into the wild, where they lead hunters to the wild herds. The method, which takes advantage of the animals' socializing behaviour, also works in controlling wild buffalo, cattle, donkeys and goats.
As well as inflicting up to $100 million in damages to crops, fences, water supplies and even lambs, the wild pigs are potential carriers of devastating diseases such as hoof and mouth.
While each Judas sow makes contact with up to eight other pigs in a week, Aussie eradication programs have had at best an 85-per cent success rate, not high enough to control epidemics, say officials.
The Danes are already the boy wonders of world pork trade, accounting for two per cent of world production, but 15 per cent of exports. They're now aiming at an 18 per cent market share, according to a Danish industry spokesman at a Quebec agriculture symposium last month.
Niels Jorgensen, spokesman for the largest of Denmark's four major pork co-operatives, said in a recent Terre de Chez Nous article that live pork exporters want to increase from 1.2 to 1.5 million animals a year. Producing 21.1 million pigs a year, Denmark's 19,000 producers export worldwide. Sixty per cent goes out as chilled or frozen product.
Farmgate prices are decided by the co-operatives, with quality premiums, and production is divided among the country's 22 abattoirs. Producers must sell all their pigs to the co-op, and membership is free.
The pig city
Ever wonder why Toronto is nicknamed "Hogtown" or meat processors "packers?"
Urban historian and Toronto Sun columnist Mike Filey says according to one theory Hogtown got its name from a bylaw imposing a 10-cent-a-pig fine on anyone allowing pigs to run in the streets.
A more likely explanation, Filey says, can be found on Front St. East, where the old William Davies Company used to operate the second largest pork processing plant on the continent back in the 1860s.
The buildings near the mouth of the Don River just east of downtown are under demolition today, but in their heyday founder William Davies, an English emigré who started out selling hams at the St. Lawrence Market, shipped millions of pounds of pork products.
In the days before refrigeration, pork was "packed" in brine - hence the term "packers." In 1874, Davies expanded yet again, incorporating slaughter and processing operations. He added refrigeration in the early 1900s.
In 1927, the William Davies Company became part of Canada Packers, which farmers know today as Maple Leaf Foods.