pigPorknews August 2020

Page 1

August 2020

p. 4 Antonio Velarde





Issue Nยบ 1








The Latest News about swine all around the world

A NEW SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL PIG SECTOR! We are proud to present the pigPorknews magazine – stay tuned with the most up to date news on the international market of the swine industry! In order to reach wider international audiences, pigPorknews has emerged after the success of PorciNews -one of the most widely read knowledge platform in the Spanish-speaking pig sector- to disseminate thorough quality research and development information of the swine sector worldwide. pigPorknews has been created to become a source of reference and a knowledge sharing space for experts that come from a wide range of sectors in the swine industry, ranging from the private sector, to research and practice. Despite the differences that may exist between countries, the swine industry requires engagement from a variety of stakeholders and bridging different sources of knowledge. The continuous improvement of the pig production levels, together with the increase in the quality of products offered to consumers, mean that the value of pork products continues to rise, earning them a prominent and deserved place in human nutrition.

in - if we disseminate actionable knowledge that makes us better, we will all improve our pig sector. During 2020 we will launch various forms of digital media -including a website, newsletter and monographics in English. We invite you to visit our website www.pigporknews.com to enjoy expertly curated content from world-renowned international experts. pigPorknews begins its journey in the publishing world with the participation of international consultants from the international pig sector who have already been featured in our specialized, innovative and rigorours Spanish media platform (PorciNews). We hope that our initiative will be well received, becoming the media of choice for all actors involved internationally.

In this first editorial, we would like to thank all of those stakeholders who are already helping us, and making possible that science is disseminated to reach wider audiences. Dear reader, we hope that you enjoy reading this first issue.

The entire pig sector is involved in increasing production and quality at a reasonable price for making the business profitable and sustainable in the long run. This is where thorough quality information comes


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TECHNICAL DIRECTION ThinkinPig – Laura Lafoz del Río EDITORIAL STAFF Daniela Morales Cristina Lorca CONTRIBUTORS Laura Pérez Vicens Enrique-Tarancón Jordi Baliellas Alberto Morillo Alujas Fernando Laguna CUSTOMER SUPPORT Ines Navarro

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The magazine management is not responsible for the opinions of the authors. All rights reserved.

1 pigPorknews August 2020

4 The new era of Animal Welfare in Pig Production - Are we ready? Antonio Velarde Head of IRTA’s Animal Welfare programme

10 The keys to successful Lactation in hyperprolific sows Mercedes Sebastián Lafuente Veterinary, Cuarte SL

20 Addressing the challenge of Management in Transition Víctor Fernández Segundo Veterinarian of the Production Dpt. VALL COMPANYS SA.

26 The importance of water on pig farms

Fernando Laguna Arán Agricultural technical engineer and veterinarian

pigporknews.com 2 pigPorknews August 2020

30 Bifet Gracia Farm & NEDAP: Perfect return on investment with automated feeding in swine nurseries Bifet Gracia Farm & NEDAP

34 Impact of Reducing Antibiotic use, the Dutch experience Ron Bergevoet Researcher in Animal Health Economics at Wageningen University

42 INTERVIEW: Animal Health in Europe after April 2021 Cristina Massot

53 Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae What are we dealing with? Marcelo Gottschalk Director of the international reference laboratory for the diagonosis of Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae

60 Dealing with the rise of Swine Dysentery Roberto Guedes Federal University of Minas Gerais

65 Differential diagnosis of respiratory processes Gema Chacón & Desirée Martín Exopol S.L.

46 Gut health in piglets - What can we do to measure and improve it? Alberto Morillo Alujas Veterinary, Cuarte SL

3 pigPorknews August 2020




Head of IRTA's Animal Welfare programme


animal welfare

he pig sector must combine profitability and productivity with the demands of consumers and the new regulations on animal welfare.

Is the pig sector ready?

We are certainly prepared for the future, today more than ever. To do so, the pig sector has to face up to the challenges posed by legislation, society and markets.

4 pigPorknews August 2020 | The new era of Animal Welfare in pig production

Animal welfare has become an important basis of sustainable production and is closely related to other important aspects such as animal health, productivity, food safety, quality and efficiency.

The challenge of prohibition on routine tail docking Currently, the main challenge of the pig sector in Animal Welfare is the prohibition to perform the tail docking on a routine basis without increasing the problems of caudophagy or tail chewing. Tail docking in piglets is the standard practice in most Member States to prevent caudophagy. However, is questionable for several reasons:

Animal Health Food Safety


The amputation of the tail causes acute pain and results in formation of neuromas which, at their time, they most likely cause chronic pain in animals. Some authors suggest that the tailing is less effective than is usually thought and that, in reality, it does not diminish the incidence of caudophagy.

animal welfare

Food quality A study carried out by our group revealed that 60% of the intensive evaluated production farms had suffered outbreaks of caudophagy despite the fact that all the animals had their tails cut off.

The demand for animal-friendly products is increasing as public awareness and perception of production systems grows. Furthermore, welfare is not only a question of ethics, but also an essential tool for accessing and remaining competitive in markets. In the short term, Europe faces the challenge of adequate and complete implementation of the legislation contained in Council Directive 2008/120/EC of 18 December 2008 laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs.

It has been observed that tail amputation causes animals with a tendency to caudophagy to bite body parts of other animals. It is reasonable to think that the best method to prevent caudophagy should focus on environmental conditions and space allowances per pig, as one of the most important aspects is that animals are able to express their exploratory behavior in an appropriate way.

Its implementation by all Member States allow harmonizing the market making that all the products can circulate freely through their territory.

5 pigPorknews August 2020 | The new era of Animal Welfare in pig production

A new perspective on pig housing Under intensive conditions, the presence of enrichment material encourages the expression of such behavior and helps prevent tail biting. In order to choose the right material, the following requirements must be met: Edible Chewable Manipulable

The public perception regarding some aspects of intensive systems, such as deprivation of movement, is clearly negative. The legislation already forced the housing of adult and young gilts in groups between 4 weeks after mating and 7 days before the expected farrowing date. Then, the second challenge facing the sector is the development of cage-free breeding sows.

Destroyable Clean

animal welfare


The housing system in the the maternity ward must cover the needs of the sow and the piglet. In Europe, most of the sows are confined in cages from the week before until three or four weeks after parturition. From an economic point of view, this housing system has advantages as a saving of space and handling time, ease of maintenance hygiene standards in the pen and a lesser risk of crushing piglets. However, several studies have demonstrated that maternity cages influence negatively on the physiology and farrowing behaviour of the sow, causing a stress response that may eventually affect the duration of the births and the viability of the piglets.

6 pigPorknews August 2020 | The new era of Animal Welfare in pig production

For this reason, resources are being invested in research into alternative housing systems to cages in several European countries. There are housing models that are based on eliminating the maternity cage and creating two areas, one for the sow and one for the piglets.

These systems have also been combined with the practice of allowing contact between different litters of piglets.

animal welfare

Some results suggest that this practice can reduce the stress associated with establishing hierarchies in periods such as weaning or after split marketing, reducing aggression and consequently favoring growth.

In these models, the problem of neonatal mortality is not completely solved, especially in warm climates where protective nests are less used by piglets. That is why work is also being done on semi-confinement systems. Considering that mortality is concentrated in the 3-4 days after birth, systems in which the sow is kept in a cage during this period and then allowed to move freely are being tested.

7 pigPorknews August 2020 | The new era of Animal Welfare in pig production

How do we evaluate Animal Welfare?

Technification at the service of Animal Welfare

Traditionally, the evaluation of animal welfare has been carried out on the basis to the facilities, focusing attention in such areas as availability of food and water, the type and size of the pens or other structures, as well as the cleanliness and hygiene of the cabins.

The third challenge in the pig sector is the technification of farms for the continuous and automated evaluation of welfare. New precision farming techniques allow the automation of measurements on animals and their environment.

This approach, while important, has a serious drawback since the animal welfare perspective, already that doesn't really reflect the state of the animals, but assesses the factors of risk that can affect their well-being.

The continuous evaluation of relevant welfare parameters allows problems to be detected early on and the data to be used as an important farm management tool. For example, monitoring some behaviors allows the detection of health and wellness disorders at a very early stage and therefore can help taking corrective actions quickly or even activating them automatically. 

animal welfare

The European Welfare Quality Project changed the concept of welfare evaluation, focusing on the state of the animals, not only of the conditions in which they are housed.

This evaluation contemplates all the elements that condition Animal Welfare:

Absence of prolonged thirst



Comfort at rest Thermal comfort

Prolonged absence of hunger

Ease of movement


Expression of social behaviour



Expression of other behaviors Good human-animal relationship

8 pigPorknews August 2020 | The new era of Animal Welfare in pig production

Absence of injury Absence of disease Absence of injuries caused by handling

Animal welfare should be seen as a business opportunity, having already been incorporated by many companies into their marketing strategies.

animal welfare

Animal welfare must be incorporated into business strategy. Increasing welfare improves business efficiency, meets consumer expectations and satisfies market demand.

The new era of Animal Welfare in pig production


9 pigPorknews August 2020 | The new era of Animal Welfare in pig production








Mercedes Sebastiรกn Lafuente Veterinary, Cuarte SL


n recent years, pig production has experienced a notable increase in productivity, mainly due to changes in management and genetic selection.

32 30




26 24 22 20








Graph 1: Evolution of numerical productivity in the last 25 years. (BDporc data). porciNews magazine (November 2018).

19 94 19 95 19 96 19 97 19 98 19 99 20 00 20 01 20 02 20 03 20 04 20 05 20 06 20 07 20 08 20 09 20 10 20 11 20 12 20 13 20 14 20 15 20 16 20 17







pigPorknews August 2020 | The keys to successful lactation in hyperprolific sows


Homogeneous and quality litters

Nowadays, the major swine breeds are more prolific, have smaller weaningto-estrus interval (WEI), are heavier, with less adipose tissue and reduced appetite.

> nยบ weaned piglets/sow/year

Feed consumption < 40 kg/weaned piglet

On the other hand, the objectives of the current pig production are more demanding: Maximizing the number of piglets weaned/sow/year


Obtaining quality piglets and with the least variation in weight at weaning


Feeding consumption by sows under 40 kg/weaned piglet

Fat reserves Weight WEI


Intake capacity

GENETIC CHARACTERISTICS OF HYPERPROLIFIC SOWS 11 pigPorknews August 2020 | The keys to successful lactation in hyperprolific sows

What is the key for a good lactation? A good feeding of the sow Adequate nutrition and management of the breeding sow at all stages of the production cycle is essential to ensure its welfare and longevity on the farm, as well as to obtain optimum productive and reproductive performance.

If we focus on the feeding of the lactating sow, we could say that the lactation period is a determining factor in her performance.


One of the challenges of this period is to make sows capable of dealing with the increase in milk production and the increase in the size of the litter, minimizing weight losses and body reserves of the lactating sows.

The insufficient supply of amino acids and/or energy to the lactating sow, either as a result of a feed restriction (excessive or very long time rations) or a reduced consumption (sick sows, inadequate environmental conditions, water shortage, etc.) causes the sow to enter a catabolic state, mobilizing its body reserves to compensate for the high requirements of milk production.

Figure 1: Excessive loss of body condition after lactation.

12 pigPorknews August 2020 | The keys to successful lactation in hyperprolific sows

As a consequence of lipid and protein catabolism (Figure 2), several productive and reproductive parameters are affected.


The loss of muscle mass has an influence on:


Fertility Embryonic survival Anoestrus WEI Longevity

LIPID CATABOLISM The loss of weight and body reserves of the lactating sow will have an impact on her reproductive performance in subsequent cycles, as well as on her longevity.

The mobilization of fat deposits affects: Milk production Litter size WEI

Figure 2: Types of catabolism in lactation and the production/ reproduction parameters affected.

Repeatedly, research and the different commercial systems production facilities have demonstrated the positive consequences of maximizing the consumption in lactation of the sows of lean and prolific genotype, minimizing thus the mobilization of the body's reserves and improving the weaning-to-mating interval, birth rate and litter size of the next birthing.  

13 pigPorknews August 2020 | The keys to successful lactation in hyperprolific sows

What determines feed intake in lactating sows? Feed intake by lactating sows is influenced by numerous factors, some of which are genetically determined (intrinsic factors), while others are susceptible to modification through management and nutritional strategies.

Sow-dependent factors Individual (weight and body condition), breed or genetic factors The current genetic lines are leaner and have higher nutritional needs so that feed consumption during lactation becomes a key factor in minimizing the mobilization of body reserves.


Figurae 3: Detail of the high prolificacy of the and the current genetic makeup.

INTRINSIC FACTORS (dependent on the sow)

Genetic potential for milk production Higher milk production, either due to the genetic base or an increase in the size of the litter, is usually linked to an increase in feed consumption.

14 pigPorknews August 2020 | The keys to successful lactation in hyperprolific sows

Birth number Feed intake usually increases with parity. We have to always keep in mind that first farrowing sows have lower consumption.

Nutritional factors Nutritional characteristics, palatability and feed technologies The existence of abnormal smells or tastes in the portion (rancid, acid...) will produce a decreased intake or a rejection of the feed.

Figure 4: Presence of feed in the trough under unsuitable conditions.

Regarding the form of presentation, normally the use of granulated feed is recommended instead of flour to get more consumption despite the fact that there are few studies on respect. The use of feed in granular form allows the administration of larger quantities of feed in the same volume and a better management of food distribution systems.



Water availability and consumption Water plays a fundamental role in the lactation period not only for milk production but also for the elimination of toxins.

Feed intake during the period gestational Different studies show the existence of an inverse relationship between consumption of feed during gestation and ingestion in subsequent lactation. This decrease in intake volunteer seems to be fundamentally linked to two hormones, insulin and leptin. On the other hand, the administration of fibrous feed during pregnancy improves the consumption, especially in the early days of lactation, since the contribution of fiber accustoms the sow to ingesting a greater volume of food.

The animals must be provided with water of good microbiological quality and sufficient quantity to stimulate high levels of intake necessary in lactation, which is directly linked to the consumption of water. The distribution systems must allow access to large quantities of water by the sows. We have to pay special attention to the flows of the dispenser when they are the only source of water supply (flows minimum of 2 L/minute).

15 pigPorknews August 2020 | The keys to successful lactation in hyperprolific sows

Factors depending on the handling and characteristics of the facility

Having rooms that keep the temperature within the sow's comfort range (insulation, adequate ventilation and cooling systems, etc.) will result in adequate consumption in hot periods, thus avoiding excessive weight loss.

The feed dispensers of slow fall (feeding ball) allow that the sow chooses her own rhythm of intake according to her appetite and can have access to fresh feed 24 hours a day.


Both feeders and drinkers must be easily accessible to animals and allow a correct cleaning with the objective of maximizing intake.



Currently, there are different alternatives to allow ad libitum consumption by the lactating sow, as well as electronic systems that allow an integral control of the feeding in maternity, being able to optimize the work of skilled labor.

Sows that reach the peak of intake earlier consume more feed in the overall lactation. Restrictive feeding patterns during early lactation reduce average feed consumption throughout the lactation. (Quiniou et al.,1998 – 2000; Aherne et al., 2001; Noblet et al., 1998).

Figure 5: Identical feeding slow fall system (feeding ball), one easy and one difficult for the farmer to access.

Figure 6: Over rationing of the lactating sow.

16 pigPorknews August 2020 | The keys to successful lactation in hyperprolific sows

A correct food management by the farmer will be of particular relevance.

It is important to know what type (pregnant, peripartum or lactating) and how much feed (periodic weighing) is being given to the lactating sows. Feeding and cleaning protocols must be established so that the animals always have access to clean water and feed to avoid rejections.

Figure 7: Cleaning troughs.



Adequate staff training and adequate monitoring and control of food handling is necessary.

Communication and coordination between workers is fundamental, and the use of visual systems (tweezers, colour cards, etc.) is very useful for locating and controlling problematic animals. 

Health factors The worse the health status of the lactating sow, the lower its consumption. The most frequent causes that produce a reduction in consumption and, consequently, in milk production are: Mastitis


Genitourinary tract infections

17 pigPorknews August 2020 | The keys to successful lactation in hyperprolific sows

Environmental factors Environmental temperature of the farrowing rooms is decisive for the voluntary intake of the lactating sow. An increase in temperature above the thermoneutral zone (15-20°C) is associated with a decrease in intake as a result of adaptation to decrease the thermal effect of feeding (Quiniou & Noblet, 1999).

Tª > 15-20ºC



As described by Quiniou et al. (2001) in their study on the effect of environmental temperature on the voluntary intake and behavior of lactating sows, as well as on lactation performance, temperatures above 25°C appear to be critical (Graph 1).

Feed consumption (kg/day)


However, in the birthing rooms we find lactating sows and piglets with very different environmental needs. Therefore, we have to reach a balance between the two so that the energy supplied in the form of food is used for production processes (growth or milk production) and not for the regulation of body temperature. To achieve this balance and prevent that temperature is a limiting factor of the sow's voluntary intake is fundamental to generate a microclimate within the delivery rooms, thus ensuring the thermal comfort of the piglets (30-35ºC), affecting as little as possible the thermal comfort of the sow (15-20ºC).



We can use different systems for this: infrared lamps, heating plates, bedding materials, etc.

Day 7-19

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

A good option is the use of closed nests, as they protect the piglet from draughts and reduce the need for a plate and/ or lamp, so that they generate greater thermal comfort in the piglet without affecting the thermal comfort of the sow.






TEMPERATURE Graph 1: Effect of ambient temperature on average daily intake of lactating sows. (Quiniou et al., 2001).

Achieving adequate environmental control (temperature and air quality) with ventilation and cooling systems is fundamental to guarantee the thermal comfort of the lactating sows and maximize feed consumption.

18 pigPorknews August 2020 | The keys to successful lactation in hyperprolific sows

Strategies to increase feed consumption We can use different techniques to maximize feed consumption:

Provide food in small quantities in several intakes per day and, if possible, in the cooler hours. Lift the sows to pee, defecate, eat and drink. Remove excess feed before providing the new one, thus avoiding rejection of the feed due to the possible existence of abnormal odours/flavours. Give wet food or use feeders with integrated drinker. Check the availability of fresh water (bearing in mind that a temperature above 20ยบC reduces consumption).


Use cooling equipment and work properly with ventilation, since heat stress reduces the consumption. The use of NSAIDs is a common practice that helps to reduce pain, swelling and anorexia in sows. Oral application is a good alternative to reduce the animals' stress and fear of farm employees. Note that most sows do not show rejection or reduced feed consumption throughout lactation. We will work with those sows that do, using different management strategies in order to stimulate consumption as soon as possible.

The main objective of all these strategies is to ensure a high feed intake during the lactation phase in order to achieve the high production potential of current genetics.

The keys to successful lactation in hyperprolific sows


19 pigPorknews August 2020 | The keys to successful lactation in hyperprolific sows



VĂ­ctor FernĂĄndez Segundo Veterinarian of the Production Dpt. VALL COMPANYS SA.

Weaning, a "complicated" stage In pig production, each phase is of fundamental importance for the optimization of production. The economic cost of the piglet, before its slaughter, is the responsibility of all the agents involved in its correct growth and adaptation to the environment around it, in order to achieve the maximum performance of each animal. In this article, we will try to explain the management needed to make possible that expression of the productive performance of our animals in phase 2, commonly known as transition.

20 pigPorknews August 2020 | Addressing the challenge of management in transition

Before we fill the facilities: we must be prepared ROOM COMPLETELY EMPTY AND CLEAN

Before the piglets arrive in the facility, it must have been completely emptied.

Cleaning and disinfection

Weaning is one of the most complicated immune challenges the piglet will have to face throughout its life. At this time, a series of changes will occur, both physiological and environmental, which will test the immune status of the animal. The weaning piglet, in our production model, is an immature animal. A physiological, psychological and nutritional adaptation to the new environment is necessary. This is where management plays a key role.

A suitable cleaning and disinfection plan should have been applied, with all organic matter removed with pressurised water, followed by the application of soap and finally a disinfectant. Once the cleaning protocol has been carried out, the room must be completely dried.

It is essential to activate the heating system at least 12 hours before the arrival of the piglets. This will help us to find a comfortable environment for the animals and avoid drafts, as we will have heated the surfaces in contact with the air in the room.



Our goal should be to help the piglet successfully overcome this complicated and stressful stage, with the aim of starting the intake of both water and feed as soon as possible.

21 pigPorknews pigPorknews August July 2020 | The new era of Animal Welfare in pig production



There should be no trace of the chemicals used, and areas such as feeders and water bowls should be thoroughly inspected for residue.

Feeder 1 mouth/ 5 piglets

Gridded floor

Solid heatable zone 0.04 m2/ piglet 0,2m2/ piglet

1 point of water / 18 piglets

starter feeders

ROOM SETUP In an ideal situation we would have: Pens with few animals, with a density less than or equal to 0.2 m2/piglet


Troughs with a minimum of one mouth for every 5 animals

1 water point for every 18 animals Availability of starter feeders in each pen

Solid areas

Partially gridded floor, with a solid heatable area (minimum 0.04m2/piglet) and the rest of the floor gridded with plastic It is advisable to spread drying powder over solid areas. Piglets often arrive disoriented and are likely to urinate and defecate in the heatable zone. On farms where an extensive solid area is available (feedlot type farms), it is recommended putting a layer of chopped straw on top, in addition to the drying powder. The piglets find the area with straw very comfortable, using it as a resting area. In addition, we will reduce the stress of adapting to a new environment, as the straw allows them to express their usual behaviours by browsing and eating it.

22 pigPorknews August 2020 | Addressing the challenge of management in transition

Temperature, ventilation & insulation

Before the arrival of the animals it is necessary to have a temperature and ventilation curve, to control the environmental factor. When the piglets arrive, it is recommended to set a desired temperature of 26ºC (78.8 °F), provided that there is a floor heating system (thermal blanket or underfloor heating). The minimum ventilation should be adjusted according to the power of the exhaust fan and the capacity of the room. It is necessary to have a well-insulated room, since it will allow to ventilate correctly without losing temperature.


Starter feeder

There should be a starter feeder in each pen, filled with water and rehydration mixture. This point is always important, but it becomes even more important when the animals arrive by truck and in summertime, with high temperatures.

It should also be emphasized the importance of a good insulation in terms of economic savings in heating, since by almost not losing temperature through the walls and ceiling, the expenditure needed to heat the room is reduced considerably. That's why it is recommended isolating all surfaces in contact with the outside.

23 pigPorknews August 2020 | The new era of Animal Welfare in pig production

Arrival of the piglets: "Let's get to work"

Piglet distribution


The aim is a mixture of aromas and flavors that will attract the piglets to start eating as soon as possible. Therefore, it should be put in a small quantity in the hopper, because the more we prolong its exposure to the environment, the greater the loss of its properties. Once the piglets have entered the room it is time for their "triage", that is, separating them by size. A good distribution should always be done by taking out the larger animals first, leaving the smaller animals last.

Weaker and smaller piglets should be grouped together in "nurse" pens. These must always be in the warmest area of the room, which is normally the center, and have a lower density than the rest of the pens.


The hoppers should be filled by trying to calculate the amount per day. This is important because the "Lacto-Initiator" feed is a very expensive food, and the manufacturers are not influenced by its economic value.

One of the key elements for successful trialling is to leave pens free to separate "recovered" piglets from the nurseries, i.e. animals that are in good condition and no longer show signs of weakness. This will allow us to always have the weakest animals under control and, in turn, not have them fighting for food or water with stronger and healthier animals. Vaccinations should be given accordingly, thus minimizing the stress as much as possible.

Feed Initiation

Preliminary check

All drinkers and feeders should be checked for proper function and ventilation systems.

Milk-indicator feed administration

Once the room is ready to receive the piglets, it will be time to fill it.

When we have the piglets distributed and vaccinated, it is time to introduce them to the new feed. Although in the hopper they will always have feed available, it is necessary to make "porridge" in the starter feeder. It is a simple and very effective mix of "Lactoinitiator" with water and a rehydrating agent. It is advisable to make it more watery in the nurseries and somewhat more solid in the rest of the corrals. This is the best way to encourage the intake of piglets.

A pattern could be to supply "porridge" 3 days on all feeders, and extend them to 1 week in the nurseries.

24 pigPorknews August 2020 | Addressing the challenge of management in transition

Rest of the breeding: "who starts well ends well" During the rest of the breeding the work will be more routine, but not less important. APPLY A WIDE-SPECTRUM ANTIBIOTIC TO "DELAYED" ANIMALS: All animals should

be observed one by one daily, and animals showing symptoms of weakness or apathy should be given an injectable antibiotic. If you do not see improvement, you should separate them from the rest. TREATING THE NURSERIES: Free pens

will help to get the animals that have recovered their vitality out of the nursery


animals will appreciate a correct amount of "Lacto-initiator" and "Pre-starter". We must therefore manage the feed properly. On many farms we can find double hoppers, but it is recommended that the hoppers are shared by animals of similar size. We will be able to increase the amount of starter feed in the hoppers that feed small animals and to advance the "Starter" in the hoppers shared by larger animals.


We will manage to match the size of our animals as much as possible. MANAGING THE FINISHING STAGE: At the end


Recovered piglets

of the breeding, when the pigs are transferred to the finishing barn, a good option is to transport first the biggest piglets. In this way, the density of the rest of the room is decreased and this allows greater growth of the more retarded animals to the target weight and reduces the variability between animals.

Addressing the challenge of management in transition


25 pigPorknews August 2020 | The new era of Animal Welfare in pig production


THE IMPORTANCE OF WATER ON PIG FARMS Fernando Laguna Arรกn Agricultural technical engineer and veterinarian



ometimes, in the routine of farm work, when we face a problem that is not usual in our management

we tend to think of new and somewhat complicated causes, but surely possible if we consult a manual or the encyclopedia of this century: Wikipedia. Experience says that before looking for unusual reasons, it would be advisable to review the basics and make sure that those routines we take for granted that work "as usual" are not causing any problems.

26 pigPorknews August 2020 | The importance of water on pig farms

WATER QUANTITY When we talk about quantity, we have to control two parameters: Supply

With this hypothesis, I am suggesting that something we often assume that cannot influence



Supply is a decisive factor since we started the project in our farm. We

our production, instead may be an

must have a source that guarantees

important and decisive element. As

the contribution to our daily work and

it can be water.

regulations are required to have enough reserve in case of supply cuts.

We must assume that a large amount of water is used on our farms, so its influence We have to be careful and supervise

is enormous.

our reserves because there can

We must not forget that its composition


be periods of drought that can

varies practically every day, depending on

disrupt our plans and we may have

multiple factors, two fundamental aspects

to ration the water supply in certain

being decisive:

farm areas.

Quantity Quality

It is advisable to have a B plan in case there is a lack of water supply


Another aspect to control with respect to the amount of water is the volume consumed, especially nowadays when we want to control and measure as much parameters as possible, collecting data and interpreting the results. It is curious that there are still farms that do not have a flow meter at the entrance of the farm to know what is their daily consumption. Knowing this data is very simple and the amount of information it can provide is very important.

27 pigPorknews August 2020 | The importance of water on pig farms

The information on our daily consumption allows us to make forecasts in order to manage our reserves, but it can also alert regarding a problem, as its variation is a sign that something out of the ordinary is


Lower consumption Higher consumption

happening. If on arrival at the farm and we see that water consumption is higher than normal, it is very likely that we will have some water leakage, with the cost of the product and its future management as a by-product. If the volume consumed is lower, it is most likely that a pathological process is beginning in the animals because the first symptom observed is apathy and a decrease in the intake of drinking water and food.

We will surely see that affected animals have not eaten, but if their water consumption also decreases, it is because the pathological process is more important. Another cause of the decrease in the volume consumed may be a failure in the facilities that does not allow the water to reach the animals, losing production during that time without drinking. Thus, it is advisable to review the water supply installation periodically on the outside (to avoid leaks) and on the inside (to avoid the accumulation of Biofilm, an important source of contamination with the capacity to clog the pipes).

It is essential to establish a regular cleaning routine of tanks, pipes and water dispensers with products of proven effectiveness. 28 pigPorknews August 2020 | The importance of water on pig farms


The used product does not have to be the

Regarding the Biofilm, we must refer to

because on every farm the problem is

another aspect of water that must be

different and the conditions of the facilities

controlled: quality.


Although the definition of the characteristics of water as colorless, odorless and tasteless, from our experience we know that, depending on its composition, these characteristics may change.

same as the one used to clean pipelines,

Sometimes, it is possible to apply a product by pulses at the entry of each quantity of water, but others we do not have an input of electricity that allows these impulses and we must apply the product in the entire volume to be treated. Then it is necessary that the product remain effective as long as possible.

Sometimes, we can detect with our senses

The amount of microorganisms is

that the water we are using on our farm

important, but also the chemical

is different from the one we had a few

composition, as many times a larger

days earlier. For example, because there

amount of salt can be harmful to the

has been a storm that has removed the

animal and the facility.


ravaged sludge, because it has poured something into the river and increased its eutrophication or simply because with the increase in temperature bacteria multiplied. Although for some uses (such as the cleaning or cooling) the possible problems mentioned above may not influence too much, if we consider the great amount of water ingested by the animals it can be decisive. To control the quality of the water we cannot rely only on our senses,

If the presence of any particular mineral is greater, its effect may be detrimental to production or even lethal to an animal. For these cases there are also usually treatments to sequester these minerals, but calculations must be made to see if it is profitable.

Thus, we can see how important it is to control the water on our farms on a daily basis.

but everything goes through regular microbiological analysis to know the germ load of our water to act accordingly with available products on the market whose efficiency is perfectly proven.

The importance of water on pig farms


29 pigPorknews August 2020 | The importance of water on pig farms





the company Bifet Gracia

Family business, independent producer

Eduardo Bifet, and by the farm manager,

Eduardo Bifet speaks proudly of the company’s

Antonio Aguilar.

strategy. Bifet Gracia is a familiar company that,

accompanied by its manager,

The company Bifet Gracia is a family business specialized Breeding farm with 2,500 sows

within the competitive sector of the Spanish pork, has remained an independent producer.

in the production of pork and

On the one hand, the company has followed a

beef cattle. We visited their

strategy based on carrying out the complete

breeding farm with 2,500

cycle of breeding and fattening of animals.

sows located in Castillonroy

On the other hand, in the use of own facilities.

(Huesca), one of the main

Within the context of production and with the

areas of pig production in

cyclical crises that suffers the pig sector, it is


not easy to remain as an independent producer in Spain.

30 pigPorknews August 2020 | Bifet Gracia Farm & Nedap - Perfect return on investment with automated feeding in swine nurseries

The company Bifet Gracia is clear on the concept that, to be able to compete within today’s pork industry, it’s necessary to work in a very professional way. In this sense, Eduardo shares their vision of how important is the incorporation of technology on the farms, but to do so strategically by looking for systems that provide solutions to specific problems and offer a good return on investment.

What was the main reason for installing automatic feeders in the maternity ward?

Why did you choose Nedap as your technology provider?

Maternity feeding, formerly carried out with a

possessed several characteristics that made

manual system, had been identified as one of

it a suitable candidate.

the limiting elements of farm productivity.

When it came to the decision, Nedap

Nedap has a very powerful software that

The number of times the sows could

matches the management program the farm

be fed manually was a limitation to the

was already using.

consumption of feed and also meant a very important workload for the staff. In addition, to improve productivity we opted to make a change in the farm’s genetics towards more prolific animals.


We walk around the farm with Antonio Aguilar, who is in charge of the sows’ farm. Antonio developed his professional activity in the agricultural sector and joined the company 13 years ago, when the farm was in the project phase. He was involved in the construction, which is an advantage since he knows the facility in depth. Then, he went to work on the farm assuming different responsibilities until he reached his current position as head of the breeding farm.

This allows us to cross-check consumer information with the information from the management program itself. Another important element was the ease of coupling the Nedap Compact Feeder with the feeding systems that were installed in the farrowing units.

With this change, looking for more numerous litters, it became even more evident the need to install an automatic feeding system in the maternity ward in order to improve the productivity results and the condition of the sows at weaning.

31 pigPorknews August 2020 | Bifet Gracia Farm & Nedap - Perfect return on investment with automated feeding in swine nurseries

Nedap Compact Feeder We decided to work on the basis of three feeding curves and then raise or low the

The Nedap Compact Feeder fits perfectly into the dispensers we had in the farrowing units. This is especially important on a farm that was already in full operation. In our case, and in order to interfere less with the day-to-day running of the farm, we opted for the installation of the 512 Nedap Compact Feeder systems when the different rooms were emptied during a complete cycle. Eduardo Bifet

amount of feed according to each female. The three curves we work on are the first time gilts, multiparous and another curve that we reserve for sows that have few piglets. It is important to make clear that anyway the staff must supervise the sows and checking the feeders. But now they can spend more time on tasks that require more attention and we are sure that the sows are fed according to their


What was your first impression working with the Nedap system? Once the installation of the Nedap Compact Feeder in the maternity ward was completed, we could see from the beginning how easy it was to work with the system.

curve every day.

What advantages have you noticed after installing Nedap Compact Feeder in the maternity ward? After the installation of the Nedap Compact

The program has a very intuitive and practical learning and the training of the staff is very fast. The daily process is also extremely simple:

Feeder automatic system , we increased the feed intake from 3 to 5, although we could even increased it further. This increase in the number of meals has increased consumption in lactation which

Establishment of the feeding curve for each female.

makes that:


Sows come out better from farrowing, with a more preserved body condition which has a positive impact on their next

The staff checks the trough.

reproductive cycle. Depending on whether the sow has eaten or not, introduce in cellphone or tablet any upward or downward modification.


Improve the quality of the weaned piglet, that comes out with more weight and works better in the other stages of production.

Automatically, the information is transferred to the system and the program applies it to the curve.

32 pigPorknews August 2020 | Bifet Gracia Farm & Nedap - Perfect return on investment with automated feeding in swine nurseries

Another important element to consider is that

A great advantage we have observed is the

the installation of the Nedap Compact Feeder

reliability of the machines, something that is

has helped us to better adjust consumption

basic in the farm equipment.

and thus reduce feed waste during lactation.

We installed 512 Nedap Compact Feeders two years ago and we have not had any remarkable impact. All those who work

Controlling feeding costs is basic to have an optimal production cost.

on a farm know how important it is to have reliable material, especially when it is needed for something as important as feeding.

Automating feeding in lactation has other advantages. It also allows us to maintain the

Maintenance has been minimal and we

number of meals, regardless of any limitations

also have Agrogi technical service, who,

of personnel.

in case of having any questions, they are always available so we can work it out.

Sows are becoming more productive and

Also, most of the incidents are resolved

every portion they receive is important for

on the phone, which not only makes

maintaining the feeding routine and get the

everything more agile, but also facilitates

maximum consumption. When we were

the care of the farm biosecurity.

working with the manual system, the days


with less staff, like weekends and holidays, it was impossible to give all the meals. Now, we work with five rations per day: 8.00: 30% of the total 12.00: 15% 17.00: 15%

We would like to finish talking about the future plans that Eduardo Bifet has for the company. Our idea is to continue with the strategy that

22.00: 20% 04.00: 20%

we have maintained until now: to improve

We can adjust the feed intake to the year

also continue with the policy of investing in

season and in hot periods we can make

our own facilities with a view to increasing the

the sows eat more in the cooler hours,

number of fattening stations, to continue to

thus maintaining good consumption in

take care of biosecurity and animal welfare

those difficult moments.

and to be attentive to new technologies. All

the efficiency of the farm. Moreover, we will

together in order to continue implementing the best technological developments that allow us to invest with good criteria to improve our pork company.

Bifet Gracia Farm & Nedap


33 pigPorknews August 2020 | Bifet Gracia Farm & Nedap - Perfect return on investment with automated feeding in swine nurseries





Researcher in Animal Health Economics at Wageningen University

Adapted from: Bergevoet, R. H. M. (2019). Economics of antibiotic usage on Dutch farms: The impact of antibiotic reduction on economic results of pig and broiler farms in the Netherlands. (Wageningen Economic Research Policy Paper; No. 019-026). Wageningen Economic Research.


ntibiotic resistance has become one of the most important public health problems we face today. Therefore, initiatives and action plans are being implemented worldwide to reduce antimicrobial resistance at the national and international levels.

Measures have already been taken in many countries to reduce the use of antibiotics, and further work is needed to limit the development of antimicrobial resistance.

34 pigPorknews August 2020 | Impact of reducing antibiotic use, the dutch experience

The challenge of reducing antibiotic consumption without losing productivity In most cases, reducing the use of antibiotics on farms involves implementing measures to enhance animal health by changing the management of pigs. In the absence of data and studies on the impact of reduced antibiotic use on farm productivity and economic profitability, it was feared that producers might be reluctant to reduce their consumption.


Therefore, the WHO, FAO and OIE highlighted the need for studies to assess the costs and benefits of actions to reduce the use of antibiotics.

This article evaluates: The evolution of antibiotic use by the livestock industry of The Netherlands between 1999 and 2017. The measures taken by producers to improve health status, as well as for preventing the negative effects of reduction in the use of antibiotics. The economic impact of reducing the use of antibiotics on the productive output of the farms and international competitiveness of the Dutch pig sector.

35 pigPorknews August 2020 | Impact of reducing antibiotic use, the dutch experience

Evolution of antibiotic use in The Netherlands 1999

In 1999, the Dutch government began to monitor the use of antibiotics in production animal, recording total sales of veterinary prescription antibiotics.


In 2004, this monitoring was extended to include the use of antibiotics by species.


As of 2008, a new policy was implemented on the reduction and responsible use of antibiotics in animal production, establishing agreements among the main representatives of the Dutch livestock sector and the Royal Association of the Dutch Veterinary Association. The Key elements of this approach were: Setting antibiotic reduction goals.


Transparency and the establishment of reference values for the use of antibiotics at animal batch level and by veterinarian (from 2011). Implementation of health plans to improve animal health and clarify responsibilities with respect to welfare and management. 2012

By 2012, a reduction of of 50% compared to 2009 in the total antibiotic sales.


From 2013, antibiotics considered critical for human health are practically absent in the Dutch livestock sector.


In 2017, sales of antibiotics from veterinary use had been reduced by 63% compared to 2009. In the case of the pig sector, sales of antibiotics were reduced by 58% compared to 2009. As a result of this reduction, there was a decrease in the level of antimicrobial resistance in most livestock species.

36 pigPorknews August 2020 | Impact of reducing antibiotic use, the dutch experience

Figure 1 shows the measures adopted by the participant producers, showing that most of them focused on health management, biosecurity, the use of antiinflammatory products and vaccination.

On-farm measures The importance of industry commitment Among all livestock in The Netherlands, the pig sector was the one who initially submitted one of the highest levels of consumption of antibiotics and also the largest reduction, with production practices being very similar to those carried out in the rest of the EU and the world.

Most producers indicated that the implementation of the measures was done after consultation with their veterinarian more than 3 years ago. Furthermore, once implemented, these measures remained in force.

To find out about the measures taken to improve animal health and minimize the impact of reducing the use of antibiotics, 56 producers of sow breeding farms participated in a series of surveys during summer of 2018.

Avoiding routine use of antibiotics Increase in preventive vaccinations

Improved hygiene

Use of analgesics and antiinflammatories

Yes: 81,5% >9 years: 9,3% 6-9 years: 11,1% 3-6 years: 38,9% <3 years: 22,2% Yes: 67,3% >9 years: 38,2% 6-9 years: 7,3% 3-6 years: 14,6% <3 years: 7,3%

Pay more attention to pest control

Improved environmental control

Yes: 81,1% >9 years: 20% 6-9 years: 12,7% 3-6 years: 41,8% <3 years: 7,3%

Yes: 60% >9 years: 21,8% 6-9 years: 5,5% 3-6 years: 18,2% <3 years: 14,6%

Yes: 59,3% >9 years: 27,8% 6-9 years: 3,7% 3-6 years: 24,1% <3 years: 3,7%

Measures taken by > 50% producers on breeding sow farms

Yes: 76,4% >9 years: 12,7% 6-9 years: 14,6% 3-6 years: 36,4% <3 years: 12,7% Yes: 74,4% >9 years: 34,6% 6-9 years: 14,6% 3-6 years: 12,7% <3 years: 12,7%

Yes: 65,4% >9 years: 21,8% 6-9 years: 10,9% 3-6 years: 20% <3 years: 12,7%

Apply individual veterinary treatments


Figure 1. Measures taken by 50% or more of the 56 breeding sow producers surveyed to improve animal health (% of producers). Of the total producers that implemented each measure, the percentage that implemented it more than 9 years ago, 6-9 years ago, 3-6 years ago and less than 3 years ago is shown.

Increased animal health checks

Yes: 63% >9 years: 18,5% 6-9 years: 7,4% 3-6 years: 20,4% <3 years: 16,7%

Yes: 56,4% >9 years: 29,1% 6-9 years: 9,1% 3-6 years: 10,9% <3 years: 7,3%

Improvement of feed quality

Yes: 40% >9 years: 18,2% 6-9 years: 5,5% 3-6 years: 9,1% <3 years: 7,3%

Acquisition of healthier/ stronger sows

Restriction on the origin of breeding sows

37 pigPorknews August 2020 | Impact of reducing antibiotic use, the dutch experience

On the other hand, there were other additional measures taken by less than 50% of the producers interviewed:

Figure 2. Measures taken by less than 50% of the 56 breeding sow producers surveyed to improve animal health (% of producers).

Needle exchange between litters


A separate nursery for the piglets


Adaptation of the water pipe system


45,4% A separate nursery for the sows

44,2% 43,6%

Use of SPF system (Specific Pathogen Free)

Measures taken by < 50% producers on breeding sow farms

35,2% Drinking water acidification

3,7% 29,6% Needle exchange between sows

Only own replenishment of breeding sows

32,7% 32,1% Needle-free injection Keeping newly acquired breeding sows in quarantine

38 pigPorknews August 2020 | Impact of reducing antibiotic use, the dutch experience

To help producers change their daily practices it is necessary to devise specific actions adapted to suit their day-to-day. Besides, it's it is necessary that producers themselves feel motivated to change their behavior, which will depend on factors such as time availability, money or the housing system. For a more detailed view on the attitude of producers towards the reduction of antibiotic use, a survey was carried out to find the differences between producers who use more antibiotics and those that use less. Thus, it was found that the producers that use less antibiotics:

They are more motivated to get their antibiotic use below the target value and are more positive about it.

They have a less negative view of policy makers.

They think they use fewer antibiotics and that the health status of their farm is better compared to other farms. They feel they have enough time and knowledge (and money) to keep their antibiotic use below the target.

The results of this survey also showed that, when it comes to making political decisions, it's important to keep in mind the following: Producers who use more antibiotics are more skeptical about the political decision-makers. The veterinarian is the source of most important information, followed by feed suppliers. Producers follow the recommendations from veterinarians, as well as providers and consumers. The preferred way to obtain information is through the personal advice, as well as the study groups, internet and research reports.


What is the attitude of producers towards reducing antibiotic use?

It is important to remain focused on the continued involvement of veterinarians, and possibly feed suppliers, in providing information on reducing antibiotic use on farms, especially through personal counselling. They think that other producers, customers, the government, their partners and their environment consider it important that the use of antibiotics is low. They have a lower perception of risk and uncertainty.

They don't think the farm's results will get worse if they reduce their use of antibiotics. They think that reducing the use of antibiotics makes the work more pleasant and that it is good for animal health and welfare as well as for human health.

39 pigPorknews August 2020 | Impact of reducing antibiotic use, the dutch experience

Economic impact of reducing antibiotic use on pig farms

To understand the effect of reduced antibiotic use on the technical and economic parameters of pig farms, a study was carried out on 74 breeding farms, recording annual data between 2005 and 2017.

While the number of pig farms has been decreasing over time, the size of those remaining has been increasing, which means that the total number of animals has remained stable in The Netherlands.

The following variables were analysed in relation to dose daily antibiotics/sow:

In this respect, the reduction of antibiotic use has had little impact on the structural trend in the pig sector.

Health cost/sow Total cost/pig

With respect to production parameters (Table 1), productivity and conversion rates (CI) have improved, while preweaning mortality rates of piglets have remained relatively stable (≈14%).

Farm/sow profits Total earnings/sow Number of piglets sold/sow


It should be noted that mortality on pig farms seems to have clearly increased between 2005 and 2010. However, already in 2008, when the use of antibiotics started to decrease, mortality was at the same level as in 2010.

CAs a result of this analysis, no significant relationship was found with antibiotic reduction (either positive or negative). Only a positive association was detected between antibiotic use and health costs: farms with higher antibiotic consumption also have higher health costs.

Table 1. Evolution of production parameters of Dutch pig farms between 2005 and 2017. 2005






Pre-weaning mortality (%)








Kg feed/piglet (25 kg) Growth in fattening/day (g)









Bait Conversion Rate





A 10% increase in antibiotic consumption would result in an increase in health costs of approximately 0.12%.

In this respect, it should be noted that animal health costs have generally increased between 2004 and 2017, regardless of the reduction in antibiotic use. On the other hand, the modernization of pig facilities has contributed to reducing those costs.

40 pigPorknews August 2020 | Impact of reducing antibiotic use, the dutch experience

International competitiveness of Dutch pig farms In order to determine whether the strategies to reduce the use of antibiotics in the pig sector have affected its competitiveness on international markets, the production costs in The Netherlands were compared with three of its competitors:

It can be concluded that the competitiveness of the Dutch pig sector has decreased since 2013. However, no evidence has been found that this decline is related to the decrease in antibiotic use, as reflected in the evolution of production costs in Denmark, where despite low antibiotic consumption, production costs are lower than in Germany and The Netherlands.

Denmark: has a low antibiotic consumption Germany: main exporter of pigs and pork, with moderate consumption of antibiotics

The experience of the Dutch pig sector shows that the reduction of antibiotic use is possible:

Spain: relatively high consumption of antibiotics

A significant reduction was achieved by the implementation of measures relatively simple and inexpensive.

The production costs have experienced high volatility over the years, mainly due to fluctuations in the food costs (Graph 1).

Graph 1. Evolution of production costs in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Spain between 2006 and 2017.


Production costs (â‚Ź)

These conclusions imply that when designing focused strategies in the reduction of antibiotics: Germany Spain The Netherlands Denmark


1,7 1,6 1,5 1,4 1,3 1,2


No decrease in the economic performance of the farms in relation to antibiotic reduction was observed.

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017


In The Netherlands there has been a significant increase in the average production cost (+0.22 EUR/kg carcass weight) compared to the other countries, partly due to the lower performance of the sows (-1.6 commercialized piglets/sow and year).

The farm consultants and providers, such as veterinarians and feed manufacturers, must be actively involved to be able to achieve an antibiotic reduction, since the producers must be able to choose the most appropriate combination of measures to be specifically adapted to the future. It is important to transmit the feeling of urgency, with policies based on ambitious goals.

Impact of reducing antibiotic use, the dutch experience


41 pigPorknews August 2020 | Impact of reducing antibiotic use, the dutch experience

Animal Health in Europe after April 2021 Interview with




ristina Massot Berna has a

What are the functions you currently carry

degree in Veterinary Medicine

out as Policy Coordinator of the European

from the UAB and a Diploma


in Health from the National School of Health and the Carlos III Institute, having worked as Head of the Animal Health Prevention Service of the Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food of the Generalitat of Catalonia. Currently holds the position of Policy Coordinator - Seconded National Expert of the European Commission

Since I arrived in Brussels in September 2017, my work together with that of my colleagues in the Animal Health and Welfare Unit, has focused on drafting the delegated and implementing acts that supplement the new Animal Health Law (Regulation (EU) 2016/429) considered "essential" for its implementation in April 2021. In particular, I am involved in the development of the following delegated regulations: The one on health requirements for the import of animals, reproductive products and animal products The one on control measures to be applied in the event of outbreaks of category A diseases The one on the movement of products of animal origin in the European Union (EU)

42 pigPorknews August 2020 | Interview with Cristina Massot

I have also been involved in the drafting of other

diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease or avian

regulations in the same package which are closely

influenza. It is important to note that the current

related: the list of diseases for which action must

legislation is vertical in nature, has developed

be taken at EU level, the regulation categorizing

progressively and is therefore not always

them and establishing the list of species


on the surveillance and eradication of diseases and the regulation on the movement of animals within the EU. Some of these "essential" acts have already been published and others will soon be adopted by the European Commission. I am currently focusing on the drafting phase of the associated implementing acts. In particular, on the development of the various import certificates for live animals and products of animal origin, as well as the lists of third countries authorized to import animals and products of animal origin into the EU. Furthermore, I participate in the day-to-day management of issues related to the imports of animals and products into the EU under the current regulations.

The new legislative framework provides more flexibility for Member States and also more transparency, since everything that the Commission must and can develop is regulated in the basic law. The entry into force of the new legislative framework implies the establishment, for the first time, of basic rules that will govern from now on and in a harmonized manner the organization and operation of the livestock sector, as well as the development of more specific rules in this area. It establishes for the first time a series of harmonized obligations at EU level in relation to livestock management and the obligations of those who, by virtue of their activity and profession, are involved in the rearing and transport of animals and the production of food of animal origin. In the specific case of livestock management,

What will be the new developments in this

certain countries as Spain will have to adapt

legislation on Animal Health? Will there be any

the existing rules to the new legal basis. It is

major changes that will affect the management

important to note that from April 2021, all facilities

of farms?

where animals are raised and housed on a

The new Animal Health Law establishes a new legislative framework for animal health. If we

permanent or temporary basis must have a unique registration number.

analyze the European legislation developed in this field over the last 50 years, we will see that it focuses mainly on the requirements for the movement of animals and certain products between Member States and the control measures in case of confirmation of the diseases considered to be more serious. This has led to very specific and complex rules

I am currently focusing on the drafting phase of the associated implementing acts. In particular, on the development of the various import certificates for live animals

for the eradication of certain diseases, such as tuberculosis and brucellosis, and to very specific rules for the control of outbreaks of other

43 pigPorknews August 2020 | Interview with Cristina Massot


susceptible to those diseases; the regulation

What will be the scope of this new regulation? The new legislative package sets out principles

What will be the deadlines we will have to adapt to this new regulation?

and rules for communicable animal diseases

The Animal Health Act was published in March 2016

for both terrestrial and aquatic animals, both for

and will apply from 21 April 2021. The essential

farmed and wild animals, and for their products.

delegated acts and certain related implementing

In particular, it establishes:

acts supplementing the Act will apply on the same day as the Act, so Member States will have to adapt their legislative and organisational framework in order to be ready by that date.

Rules concerning the prevention, surveillance, control and eradication of diseases

Act is designed to be fully developed in the future, so there is still a long way to go and

Health requirements for the movement of

more delegated and implementing acts to be

animals and their products within the EU and

developed, which should contribute to the


change of approach introduced by the basic

It also provides the legal basis for emergency measures in certain situations


However, we must bear in mind that the new

Act, symbolised by the famous: prevention is better than cure. In conclusion, rather than a deadline, 21 April 2021 could be considered as a starting point for the

In this respect, it is important to note that the new rules include a limited list of diseases (63), set out

harmonisation of animal health policies at EU level.

in Article 5 and Annex I of the basic Regulation and amended by the delegated and implementing acts already adopted in this respect.

Will we see major changes in the role of the veterinarian on pig farms?

It is also important to clarify what the Animal

The new Act clearly sets out the obligations of all

Health Act does not cover: animal welfare; Union

actors involved in animal health. In the specific case of

veterinary expenditure; animal feed; medicated

veterinarians, it regulates in detail:

feeding stuffs; veterinary medical products; veterinary studies; official controls; SANDACH and management of animal waste; spongiform encephalopathies and other zoonoses that fall within the scope of other legislation (Salmonella and Trichinellosis).

The obligations of detecting and reporting diseases The actions they can carry out in the official field and their role in the farms In the case of Spain, the Animal Health Law 8/2003 already clearly regulates part of these obligations and the changes we will notice in this respect will not be as evident as in other Member States. What we will see is that our obligations as veterinarians will be the same from the Mediterranean to the Baltic Sea or the Balkans.

44 pigPorknews August 2020 | Interview with Cristina Massot

What can you tell us about the situation of African swine fever, and will there be any developments in

What would be your take home meassage?

terms of its prevention and control?

Of course, the main objective is to inform my

I believe that there are great experts who have much

the changes we expect and which will be of great

more to say about it than I do. What is certain is that

importance for our activity.

we all live in fear that an unexpected incursion will

veterinary colleagues and the sector in general of

bring the disease home.

I would like you to take home two basic ideas,

I will discover nothing if I say that the main objective

the Commission myself:

which are part of the lessons I will take away from

is to work hard on prevention and to take extreme biosecurity measures at all levels, starting with farms commercially and privately.


Firstly, that European regulations have a great effect on our reality (more than we have already assumed) and that, far from

Since the detection of African swine fever in the

being a disadvantage, it is an advantage,

EU, the regulations on control measures have been

since its development is complex and many

adapted as the situation has evolved. Decision

people participate in it, competent and very

2014/709/EU sets out the measures in place for the

professional people with different profiles and

control of African swine fever in certain countries


and is amended, with input from Member States and in the framework of the relevant Standing Committee,


and ending with the movement of products, both

We must not forget that the main objective

whenever the situation requires it.

of these rules is to harmonize the ways of regulating in the European Union and

This decision and its associated "mother" directive

this increases equality, transparency and

(Directive 2002/60/EC) will cease to be in force

facilitates exchange between the Member

in April 2021. In particular, they will be repealed by

States. It also allows us to participate in

the Regulation on control measures applicable to

the strictest standards at world level and to

category A diseases (supplementing Part III of the Animal Health Act).

enjoy a health status that is equal to that of

The measures currently included in Decision 2014/709


few countries in the world, which makes us

will have to be adapted to the new legal framework.


Secondly, and in relation to the above, I would like to convey the idea that European regulations are not "written in Brussels", as I used to say, but that we all write them and there are mechanisms so that each and every

the main objective is to inform my veterinary colleagues and the sector in general of the changes we expect and which will be of great importance for our activity.

one of us can participate in the process.

Interview with Cristina Massot


45 pigPorknews August 2020 | Interview with Cristina Massot



Alberto Morillo Alujas Director of Tests & Trials

gut healt

WHAT IS GUT HEALTH? Enhancing the intestinal health of pigs has become a priority for the porcine sector, since it allows to improve their production performance, minimizing production costs and achieving the highest possible level of Animal Welfare that is accepted by society.

Over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of studies and references to what we call “Gut Health�

46 pigPorknews August 2020 | Gut healt in piglets

The definition of Gut Health will depend on who we ask and what circumstance or factor we refer to: If we want to think that the best intestinal health is the one we find in nature, in wild animals, this will depend on the moment we choose to determine it. For example, we can evaluate it in a moment of abundant food, as it is the case of autumn season for the Iberian pigs, or during the cold winter with snow and few resources in the Arctic tundra for the few wild boars that live there at that time.

gut healt

If we ask veterinarians, they will most likely refer to “the absence of digestive pathologies that hinder the development of the animal in question”, in this case, the piglet. If we ask nutritionists, they will answer that intestinal health will be that state of the animal in which the digestive functions are developed with total normality. But we have to define what is normal. The scientists will reply that they do not yet know, that more research and testing is needed. As animal production technicians we could use Pietro Celi’s definition: “A stationary state where the microbiome and the intestinal tract exist in symbiotic equilibrium and where the animal’s welfare and performance are not limited by intestinal dysfunction”.

47 pigPorknews August 2020 | Gut healt in piglets

CRITERIA FOR MEASURING GUT HEALTH Bischoff proposes 5 criteria to measure gastrointestinal health:


Effective digestion and absorption of nutrients, water and minerals. Regular bowel movements, normal transit time and no abdominal pain.

gut healt

Normal stool consistency and absence of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating.


Absence of diseases in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), without stomach diseases, such as ulcers, or intolerance to carbohydrates or enzyme deficiencies.


Normal and stable microbial flora, with no abnormal growth of some bacterial species over others and no diarrhea associated with infections or parasitations.


An effective immune status, with effective gastrointestinal barrier function: Effective and normal production of mucus, without bacterial translocations. Normal IgA levels. Immune tolerance and normal activity of immune cells with absence of hypersensitivity of the mucosa.


A welfare state difficult to identify in production animals but which can be measured with normal serotonin levels and in the absence of stress markers.

48 pigPorknews August 2020 | Gut healt in piglets




Prevention of desnutrition

Immunity tolerance

Prevention of allergies and intolerances

Defense against infections

Prevention of infections

Brain signaling (serotonine, etc.)

Energy homeostasis & regulation of mood and general well-being

Figure 1. The impact of the gut on health: the gastrointestinal tract contributes to health by ensuring digestion and absorption of nutrients and liquids thanks to several mechanisms, such as mucosal induction and systemic tolerance, the presence of defense systems against infections and other pathogens, and signaling from the periphery to the brain.

The function of the intestine is not limited to food processing and subsequent absorption of nutrients and fluids: Animal experiments and some human data have shown that the intestine communicates with bacteria that support digestion through its enzymatic capacity. The gut regulates epithelial and immune functions important to gut health and overall health.

The gut informs the brain, through the vagus nerve and certain hormones, about energy absorption and other conditions that could affect mood and general well-being. The intestine induces a tolerance of the immune system against its own while establishing an immune defense against external aggressions from food-transporting organisms.

49 pigPorknews August 2020 | Gut healt in piglets

gut healt

Nutrient and fluid absorption

Celi establishes that there are 6 components that must be taken into account and studied to define intestinal health. All of them are similar to those considered by Bischoff with the only exception that Celi incorporates the diet that can be more easily manipulated and directed than in human intestinal health.

gut healt

Diet, taking into account the macro and micronutrients, the additives production improvers, the antinutritional factors of the different ingredients and the indigestible fractions Effective immune system

Effective digestion and absorption

Stable and effective microflora with no overgrowth Intact intestinal mucosa with its mucous membrane, its epithelium and its associated lymphoid tissue

Neuroendocrine function and bowel motor

50 pigPorknews August 2020 | Gut healt in piglets


gut healt

M. Varley, in 2017 (commentary in Pig Progress), defined that for an animal to have good intestinal health there must be a high correlation between general health and intestinal health, which implies that: Optimal weight gain from 30 kg to slaughter The number of days with antibiotic treatment is low or zero Slaughterhouse lung lesions score is zero The acute-phase protein level that measures stress or inflammation at different times in your productive life is at a normal level However, this form of evaluation must be associated with another set of values that measure the different components of gastrointestinal health.

Measuring gut health with in vivo techniques requires sophisticated methods, special facilities and specialized surgical technicians, making it impractical. The use of biomarkers or biological markers, which are substances that can be used as biological indicators, has been proposed to measure intestinal health. Biomarkers must be objectively measurable and be indicators of a normal biological process, a pathological state or a response to drug treatment.

51 pigPorknews August 2020 | Gut healt in piglets

gut healt

The development of biomarkers of gastrointestinal functionality is crucial to advance the understanding of events affecting the intestinal barrier, its functionality and the ecology of gastrointestinal microbiota. We currently have a good knowledge of the digestive system and the mechanisms of absorption of the main macro and micronutrients but there is a gap in research in relation to biomarkers of gastrointestinal permeability, gastrointestinal barrier function, biomarkers for the endocrine intestinal system or biomarkers that are indicative of the functional presence of beneficial microbiota or their metabolites. References will be available on request and published on the web

Gut health in piglets


52 pigPorknews August 2020 | Gut healt in piglets

Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae

WHAT ARE WE DEALING WITH? Marcelo Gottschalk Director of the international reference laboratory for the diagonosis of Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae

There are currently 18 serotypes of A. pleuropneumoniae and three varieties of the infection/disease: Clinically acute Chronic Subclinical

In the case of the subclinical form, pigs may be infected without showing clinical signs or lesions in the lungs, and two possibilities may be observed in these cases:


Porcine Pleuropneumonia is a highly contagious respiratory disease with a strong economic impact for the pig sector worldwide and it is caused by the bacterium Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (APP) (previously Haemophilus pleuropneumoniae).

Animals infected by low-virulence strains that do not cause problems. In fact, more than 70% of the farms are infected by one or more of the non-virulent serotypes, which is not considered a major problem. Animals infected by strains of virulent serotypes that can potentially cause clinical signs at any time (entry of other infections, changes in management, etc.).

53 pigPorknews August 2020 | Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae - What are we dealing with?

How to face the challenge of Porcine Pleuropneumonia? - The first step is to understand how it is transmitted

One of the big problems of APP is that there is no safe and reliable method of acclimatization, being the vaccination of negative replacement animals the only alternative.

The natural host of APP is the pig, so its introduction into the farms occurs through the carrier pigs. Indirect transmission of this bacterium can also occur (by wind, clothing, tools, etc.), although this is less frequent.

In integration systems, regrouping in the fattening of piglets from different sows, some of them infected, is often enough to cause the manifestation of the disease.

The probability of indirect transmission of APP is related to the quality of biosecurity measures implemented on the farm and the density of neighboring farms at a reduced distance.

It is important to remember that morbidity and mortality varies greatly between and within farms over time. These variations may be due to management conditions and/or the virulence of the strain.

In infected farms, transmission normally occurs via aerial means, when animals are in contact or at close distance.

Predisposing factors favoring the development of Porcine Pleuropneumonia:


The entry of replacement sows is considered to be one of the critical points of APP transmission, especially when negative animals are introduced into an infected maternity ward, or vice versa. Piglets born from these animals are more likely to excrete the bacteria than those from older sows.

Presence of diseases as enzootic pneumonia

High housing density Non infected sow

Infected sows

Few bacterial excretion by piglets

More bacterial excretion by infected piglets and sows

54 pigPorknews August 2020 | Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae - What are we dealing with?

Poor ventilation

Abrupt temperature changes

Diagnosis of Porcine Pleuropneumonia


The diagnosis of Porcine Pleuropneumonia is based on the recognition of clinical symptoms and laboratory analysis.

The acute form of the disease is characterized by fever, loss of appetite, respiratory distress, coughing and in some cases sudden death. In dead animals, a bloody foam can be observed in the nasal cavities and/or mouth, and hyperemia (reddish color) in the skin of the abdomen.


Given the rapid evolution of the disease, which can cause death within a few hours, careful observation of the animals is essential. Clinical symptoms can be observed at any age, although they occur more frequently during fattening, less frequently at weaning and rarely in adult animals. Anorxeia

Dyspnea and cough

Acute disease is relatively easy to diagnose, since lung lesions are characteristic, although it must be confirmed by isolation of the causative agent, and sensitivity studies to different antimicrobials can be performed.

Hyperemia Fever

Identification of the serotype (serotyping) allows epidemiological monitoring using serology (antibody detection).


Occasional cough


Bloody foam

CHRONIC FORM Lung lesions


Worsening of the conversion rate

The chronic form is manifested by occasional coughing and decreased feed conversion, with clear lung lesions at the slaughterhouse. In these cases, isolation of the bacteria from these chronic lesions is more difficult. The best method to make the diagnosis is with serology.

SUBCLINICAL FORM Subclinical infection, in the absence of lung injury, is one of the most dangerous aspects of the disease.


Many farms are infected, but immune balance and proper management prevent the manifestation of clinical signs. Serology is currently the only diagnosis tool.

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Antibody detection by serology is an indirect diagnostic method, since it consists of detecting the immune response of the animals to a past infection. Therefore, the test used should be highly sensitive and specific. Broadly speaking, we can differentiate between two types of serological tests:


Serotype-specific test: detects antibodies to the purified antigen of the bacterium. Test that detects all APP serotypes: detects antibodies directed against ApxIV toxin (Table 1)


The introduction of infected breeders in APPfree maternity facilities is an important way of entry of the infection into the farm that favors the appearance of clinical signs during fattening. In these cases, the detection of the infection must go through the use of serology.


The diagnostic value of serology

When working with conventional farms (probably infected by non-virulent serotypes), only the specific serotype test should be used and may be directed mainly to the present serotypes in each region. In these farms it is not useful to use the test to detect all APP serotypes because it detects both farms infected by pathogenic serotypes and those infected with non-pathogenic serotypes, which implies obtaining positive results that are difficult to interpret and do not indicate the level of risk. The test for all APP serotypes is more useful in the case of farms that are negative to APP, as an epidemiological surveillance tool.

APP positive farms

APP negative farms

APP toxins APP serotypes

Toxin production Apxl




In what situations is APP serology recommended?

1, 5, 9/11

Identification of origin of infection

2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 15

Risk assessment of the farm (no clinical signs)

10, 14

Confirmation of suspected chronic infection based on lung lesions

7, 12, 13

Table 1. Toxins produced by different serotypes of APP.

Maternal antibody monitoring to establish the age of the first dose of vaccine (bacterial) Study of antibody kinetics in an infected farm to establish a vaccination or metaphylactic treatment program Evaluation of farms that provide replacement animals

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Keys to treating and preventing Porcine Pleuropneumonia To be effective, the optimal treatment must be applied from the beginning of the disease, immediately after the appearance of clinical signs. However, it is important to note that the use of antimicrobials may reduce mortality and injury, but does not eliminate the infection, as the animals become carriers. The first treatment should be performed parenterally, as sick animals eat and drink less.


In cases of acute illness, there are two methods of prevention: Direct protection of piglets (vaccination) Reduction of the load of APP in sows (antibiotics and/or vaccines) and/or in piglets (antibiotics)

However, we must bear in mind that current regulations may restrict significantly the use of antibiotics.


It is important to identify the treated animals, in order to verify that they do not continue to show clinical signs, otherwise it could be indicative of the development of antimicrobial resistance to the treatment.

In farms with acute outbreaks, even if the temperature is low (cold season), it is important to improve ventilation to promote proper air circulation.

Piglet vaccination For the vaccination of piglets, there are several vaccine options: Purified toxins (subunit vaccines) Bacterins (whole dead bacteria) Serotype-specific Antibodies against the bacteria (opsonization and destruction of the bacteria) Help to reduce the bacterial load

In theory, protection against all serotypes Antibodies against toxins (neutralization) No reduction of bacterial load

Mixed vaccines (whole dead bacteria enriched with toxins) In theory, all serotypes + extra protection against the serotypes included in the vaccine Antibodies against the bacteria (including serotypes) and neutralizing antibodies (toxins)

It is still not possible to predict which type of vaccine should be used on each farm, as results may vary, so it is necessary to decide on one type of vaccine and test it. If the results are not as expected, the type of vaccine (bacterial vs. toxin) should be changed. Vaccines reduce clinical signs, slaughterhouse injuries and increase weight gain, but do not eliminate the carrier state.

57 pigPorknews August 2020 | Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae - What are we dealing with?

It is important to take into account when applying the vaccines to the piglets: The presence of maternal antibodies: the application of vaccines must be done in a way that avoids the interference of maternal antibodies taking into account the level of antibodies received and that the antibodies against toxins have a longer duration.


Therefore, the first dose of vaccine should be tried not to be given before 8 weeks of age, and in extreme situations it is recommended to give up to 3 doses.

The time of occurrence of clinical cases Presence of Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome (PRRS): It has been observed that, if the vaccine is given at the time of a strong circulation of the PRRS virus, the immune response to the vaccine can be seriously affected It is possible that this phenomenon depends on the viral strain or that the virus affects the response of the vaccine to APP.

How can we reduce the load of APP? To reduce the APP load, especially at weaning, there are the following options: To treat the sows with antibiotics before delivery and during the nursing period However, it is important to bear in mind that the use of antibiotics can be controversial and should be avoided To treat piglets at birth and a few days before weaning (long-acting antibiotics)

Vaccinate mothers (necessarily with a bacterium of the same serotype that causes the disease) Reduce weaning to a maximum of 21 days Sending the first-time piglets somewhere else

58 pigPorknews August 2020 | Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae - What are we dealing with?

APP Eradication - is it feasible?

Depopulation and restocking with uninfected animals is a method that offers good results, but is drastic and costly. If the farm does not have biosafety methods or is in an area with a high density of pig farms, the risks of re-contamination may be high. The method of serological testing and elimination of positive animals (with general antimicrobial treatment to “freeze” the infection) has given contradictory results. This methodology can only be used in farms with limited numbers of sows. Medication at early weaning can offer good results, especially when weaning is done before 18 days of age, although this “rule” is relative, since it depends on factors such as the level of infection and maternal antibodies present in the sows, the antibiotic treatment implemented, the serotype, etc.

It is necessary to take into account which are the most prevalent serotypes in each region. Almost all commercial farms are infected with one or more APP serotypes. Virulent strains may be present on farms without clinical signs.

Vaccination is a valid alternative, although care must be taken with the use of bacterial if the serotype present on the farm is not known.


Since there are methods to diagnose the infection and monitor farms to make sure they are free of the infection, eradication is possible.

Neither antibiotic treatment nor vaccination seems to be able to completely eliminate the carrier state.

This method does not eliminate the infection of the sows, but it generates negative piglets. The principle of elimination with antibiotics is not a very valid alternative, as the animals remain carriers until proven otherwise. Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae What are we dealing with?


59 pigPorknews August 2020 | Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae - What are we dealing with?



Roberto Guedes


Federal University of Minas Gerais

Swine Dysentery, a disease caused by Brachyspira hyodysenteriae and characterized by the onset of catarrhal hemorrhagic diarrhea, is experiencing a major resurgence in many countries worldwide.

60 pigPorknews August 2020 | Dealing with the rise of Swine Dysentery

How to face the challenge of Swine Dysentery in the new scenario of pig production under the restriction of antibiotic use? The key is to know our opponent...


Brachyspira hyodysenteriae is an anaerobic gram-negative spirochete with helical shape and 7-14 periplasmic flagellums. Its flagellums facilitate the movement on the surface of the colon mucosa, which is rich in calciform cells and mucus.

Swine Dysentery is a disease with great impact on domestic pigs, although it also affects wild species, with infection occurring via the fecal-oral route. The bacteria can infect and be eliminated through the feces of other species such as ducks, geese, chickens, gulls, dogs and especially rodents, which can excrete the bacteria for long periods of time (up to 6 months).

For dysentery to occur, it is necessary the infection by B. hyodysenteriae, B. suanatina or B. hampsonii, although this is not sufficient to trigger the disease. Other factors such as the interaction with the microbiota and the diet have also an impact. The presence of mucus favors its survival and proliferation by creating an anaerobic environment, and a source of nutrition and protection against intestinal flow. The nox gene encodes for the NADH oxidase, an enzyme that protects bacteria from oxygen toxicity.

Despite the apparent success in keeping Swine Dysentery under control, it remains a major problem for many producers, and several factors have contributed to the re-emergence of this disease:

There are variations in the level of pathogenicity of the bacteria. Depending on the microbiota and diet or the interactions with the characteristics of the present strain, the disease can manifest or not. Therefore, the circulation of low pathogenic strains makes difficult the implementation of a prevention program.



Unmasking B. hyodysenteriae

Restrictions on the use of antimicrobials, especially growth promoters, which may have masked or mitigated the clinical presentation of the disease.

The emergence of new pathogenic species of Brachyspira, such as B. hampsonii in North America and B. suanatina in the Nordic countries.

Serious biosecurity failures that facilitate the contamination of intensive production systems with strains that were only present in breeding centers.

61 pigPorknews August 2020 | Dealing with the rise of Swine Dysentery



Recognizing the effects of Swine Dysentery In order to face dysentery it is essential to know the pathogenic mechanisms that lead to symptomatology. B. hyodysenteriae produces an enterocyte and colon infection, causing the detachment of the coating epithelium and inflammation of the lamina propria and intestinal submucosa. These alterations lead to a sharp reduction in the absorption capacity of the intestine with the loss of fluids and nutrients, as well as the appearance of microscopic hemorrhages on the injured mucosa



Consequently, the animal develops a catarrhal diarrhea which in a few days evolves into a catarrhal hemorrhagic diarrhea, mainly in weaning pigs, in transition and fattening, as well as in the breeders and males. Initially, doughy yellow-green stools are observed and, as the disease progresses, they evolve into watery ones with blood, mucus and fibrin. Depending on the individual response, the animals recover, although their development will be compromised with an increase in mortality and a decrease in weight gain in transition and fattening animals.

62 pigPorknews August 2020 | Dealing with the rise of Swine Dysentery

As a major disease with a strong economic impact, is it is essential to confirm clinical suspicions by examining the macroscopic lesions and by means of laboratory techniques. Which samples should be analyzed to confirm the diagnosis of Swine Dysentery? It is essential to perform the necropsy of the dead animals, as well as the sacrifice and subsequent necropsy of some animals with acute symptomatology, in order to verify whether the lesions are compatible with the disease. Sections of the large intestine with compatible macroscopic lesions must be sent to the laboratory: Formalin-fixed for histopathological examination.. Fresh for the performance of molecular biology techniques and bacterial isolation. Portions of small intestine, mesenteric lymph nodes and liver in order to make a differential diagnosis with other enteric pathogens.  

The importance of having the right prevention and control tools

It may be recommended to remove the very weak animals that have been recovered from the infection, since they could continue to excrete the bacteria through the feces for long periods of time. As with any other infectious disease, all aspects related to the prevention of new pig entries, fomites and biological vectors contaminated with the bacteria will be extremely important. We must remember that strengthening the quarantine of replacement animals with analysis of the stool samples by PCR is a viable alternative that should be accompanied by a continuous clinical examination. Normally, for these analyses we take 30 stool samples from different animals that are sent to the laboratory. There, pools of 5 samples are analyzed by PCR or used for bacterial isolation. If one of the pools has a positive result, the 5 initial samples are analyzed individually.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, it is very important to implement a program to eradicate the disease on the farm as soon as possible:


Treating pigs with the right antibiotic

There are several antimicrobial products that have activity against B. hyodysenteriae. The isolation and determination of the antibiotic sensitivity of the circulating strain/s would be optimal.


When the lab confirms that it is Swine Dysentery, a treatment must be applied. This treatment must be associated with the modification of the animal flow in the farm and thus intensifying of cleaning and disinfection measures.

However, this is not always possible. The next option would be to choose a treatment based on existing information on the sensitivity of the circulating strains in the region. In general, Pleuromutilin, Valnemulin and Tiamulin offer good results, together with Tilvalosin and Chlortetracycline. On the other hand, thyme and carob nutraceuticals have shown promising results.

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Rodent control to prevent the spread of the bacteria through biological vectors.

Swine Dysentery is caused by a bacterium whose mechanism of transmission and epidemiological behavior is well known, so it can be successfully controlled. The great limitation of this disease is still the absence of an effective universal vaccine, since there is a great variability among B. hyodysenteriae strains and the same vaccines and serological tests that may be effective in one region may not be effective in another.



Cleaning, hygiene and disinfection of facilities to reduce infection pressure.

Therefore, it is important to remember that the best strategy is to avoid contamination is biosecurity, as a preventive measure of pathogen spread: Preventing the entry of pathogens by carrying out quarantines and specific tests (PCR or isolation). Avoiding contamination by fomites, controlling visits, mandatory shower, changing clothes, perimeter fencing, etc. Performing good rodent control.

Dealing with the rise of Swine Dysentery


64 pigPorknews August 2020 | Dealing with the rise of Swine Dysentery



Gema Chacón Pérez & Desirée Martín Jurado


reathing problems in pigs are usually caused by multifactorial processes (infectious agents, nutrition, handling, type of facilities...).


Exopol S.L.

A differential diagnosis is essential in order to reach the resolution of the case and establish properly the treatment and control measures.

65 pigPorknews August 2020 | Diagnosis of respiratory processes in pigs

INFECTIOUS AGENTS THAT CAUSE RESPIRATORY PATHOLOGIES Table 1 lists the main infectious agents and diseases associated with respiratory symptoms, both of the upper respiratory tract (rhinitis) and of the lower respiratory tract (Porcine Respiratory Disease Complex, PRDC). It describes the most likely age of presentation of each disease, although it may vary according to different factors: epidemic outbreaks and endemic processes, maternal immunity, environmental conditions, co-infection with other agents, etc.

Table 1. Main infectious agents causing respiratory processes in pigs.





AGE OF PRESENTATION Lactating piglets and growing pigs


Bordetella bronchiseptica

Non-progressive atrophic rhinitis

Pasteurella multocida Toxigenic

Progressive atrophic rhinitis

Pasteurella multocida


Mainly in finishing pigs

Secondary agent of the PRDC Can produce septicemic processes

Haemophilus parasuis (HPS)

Glässer's disease

Increased incidence at weaning

Polyserositis Nervous symptomatology Joint symptomatology

Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (APP)

Porcine pleuropneumonia

From transition and fattening pigs

Actinobacillus suis


Fattening pigs and adults

Respiratory lesions similar to the acute form of APP Septicemic processes Joint processes

Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae

Enzootic Pneumonia

From 2 months of age

It is part of PRDC Increased severity in co-infection with PRRS or Influenza

Mycoplasma hyorhinis

Mycoplasma hyorhinis

Pigs from 3 to 10 weeks old

Polyserositis Joint processes In controversy its involvement in pneumonias

Salmonella choleraesuis


From 1 month of age, mainly in fattening pigs

Sepsis Diarrhoea Pneumonia

Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae

Swine erysipelas

From 2 months of age

Acute phase: sepsis Chronic phase: skin and/or joint symptoms

Streptococcus suis


From weaning onwards

Lactating piglets and growing pigs

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Secondary agent of the PRDC Predisposition to polyserositis More severe cases in combination with Bordetella bronchiseptica

Acute, chronic or over-acute presentation

Secondary agent of the PRDC Nervous processes Joint processes Septicemic processes





PRRS virus

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome

Respiratory symptomatology in weaning and fattening pigs

Abortions Weak born Pneumonia

Type A influenz virus

Swine flu

From the 1st week of age

Rhinitis Pneumonia Abortions Repetitions

Type 2 circovirus

Swine decline

From 2 months of age

Abortions Failure-to-thrive in transition and fattening

Porcine respiratory coronavirus

Porcine respiratory coronavirus infection

From 2-3 weeks of age

Self-limiting, if not in co-infection (PRRS e.g.)

Porcine cytomegalovirus

Inclusion body rhinitis

Lactating and transition piglets

Very prevalent infection, usually asymptomatic. It does not produce atrophy of cornets



Metastrongylus spp

Ascaris suum



From the first month of life

Ascariasis, white spotted liver

Up to 5-6 months of life (resistance)




COMMENTS Most prevalent in extensive farms Most prevalent in extensive Adult parasites in digestive tract Lung and liver lesions caused by larval migration

Table 1. Main infectious agents causing respiratory processes in processes in swine.

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DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS: SYMPTOMATOLOGY, SAMPLING AND LABORATORY TECHNIQUES A good anamnesis, clinical examination and macroscopic evaluation of lesions will allow to limit the differential diagnosis and to select the samples and laboratory analysis to reach an accurate diagnosis. In Table 2, a differential diagnosis is made based on symptoms and lesions, relating it to the appropriate samples and techniques for laboratory diagnosis.



Sneezing/Serious or mucopurulent nasal discharge




Environmental agents: dust or ammonia Bordetella bronchispetica

Nasal swab in AMIES or Stuart media


Transport <24 hrs: room temperature Transport > 24 hrs: cooling

DIAGNOSTIC TECHNIQUES Microbiological culture (high risk of contamination) Immunoassay (toxigenic Pasteurella multocida) PCR or real-time PCR Microbiological culture

Porcine cytomegalovirus Inclusion body rhinitis

Transport <24 hrs: refrigeration Head

Type A Influenza virus Hemagglutinating encephalomyelitis virus

Transport > 24 hrs: frozen (freezing invalidates the sample for histopathology and makes microbiology difficult)

Immunoassay (toxigenic Pasteurella multocida) PCR or real-time PCR Histopathology

Nasal turbinate atrophy Muzzle deviation

Toxigenic Pasteurella multocida toxinogĂŠnica (Progressive Atrophic Rhinitis) Bordetella bronchiseptica (non-progressive atrophic rhinitis)

Paired Sera

Environmental samples (air, surfaces)

Transport <24 hrs: room temperature Transport > 24 hrs: cooling Transport <24 hrs: refrigeration Transport > 24 hrs: frozen

Serology (Influenza A)

Real-time PCR

Table 2. Differential diagnosis: symptomatology, sampling and laboratory techniques

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Fibronecrotic pleuropneumonia: pockets of lung necrosis, fibrous adhesions with the pleura

Cough and dyspnea (with or without fever )

Suppurative bronchopneumonia: cranio-ventral consolidation with a reddish consistency in the acute phase and more grayish or violet in the chronic phase. Exudate in bronchioles

Interstitial pneumonia: lungs that do not collapse, reddish areas with diffuse distribution



Transport <24 hrs: refrigeration Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae


Type A Influenza virus Pasteurella multocida Streptococcus suis

Bronchial or scraping alveolar lavages

Sudden death

Hemorrhagic nasal discharge Petechia in organs Generalized congestion Absence of other lesions

Microbiological culture PCR or real-time PCR Histopathology

Transport <24 hrs: refrigeration Transport > 24 hrs: frozen

Microbiological culture PCR or real-time PCR

Haemophilus parasuis

Oral Fluids

PRRS Respiratory Coronavirus


Type 2 Circovirus

Transport > 24 hrs: cooling

Environmental samples (air, surfaces)

Haemophilus parasuis Streptococcus suis Mycoplasma hyorhinis Chronic form of Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae

Freeze immediately after sampling and send frozen with coolers Transport <24 hrs: room temperature

Organs with fibrin (liver, spleen)

Transport <24 hrs: refrigeration Transport > 24 hrs: frozen Transport <24 hrs: refrigeration Transport > 24 hrs: frozen (freezing invalidates the sample for histopathology and makes microbiology difficult)

Microbiological culture PCR or real-time PCR Serology Serology Real-time PCR Microbiological culture PCR or real-time PCR Histopathology

Pericardial fluid Bronchial alveolar lavages/ scraping(monitoring) Sera

Granulomatous bronchopneumonia: abscesses or nodular multifocal granulomas

Transport > 24 hrs: frozen (freezing invalidates the sample for histopathology and makes microbiology difficult)


Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae


Fibrinous pleuritis/ polyserositis: presence of fibrin or fibrosis on pleural surfaces




Transport <24 hrs: refrigeration

Microbiological culture

Transport > 24 hrs: frozen

PCR or real-time PCR

Transport <24 hrs: room temperature Transport > 24 hrs: cooling

Serology (Haemophilus parasuis and Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae)

Aspiration offoreign bodies Transport <24 hrs: refrigeration

Lung Parasites Tuberculosis


Bacterial embolisms: Trueperella pyogenes, Streptococcus sp. etc. Septicemia due to bacterial agents: Pasteurella multocida, Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, Streptococcus suis, Salmonella cholerasuis etc.

Lungs Internal organs (liver, spleen, kidney)

Transport > 24 hrs: frozen (freezing invalidates the sample for histopathology and makes microbiology difficult)

Transport <24 hrs: refrigeration Transport > 24 hrs: frozen(freezing invalidates the sample forhistopathology and makes microbiology difficult)

Microbiological culture Real-time PCR Histopathology

Microbiological culture Real-time PCR Histopathology

Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (hyperacute course)

Table 2. Differential diagnosis: symptomatology, sampling and laboratory techniques

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MISTAKES TO AVOID IN ORDER TO GET RELIABLE LABORATORY RESULTS Laboratory results are sometimes inconclusive and do not confirm clinical suspicion. The success of the laboratory diagnosis depends largely on the quality of the sample received, so we must take into account the following points:



Always select animals at the beginning of the process, to ensure the identification of the primary agents against which it is necessary to establish control measures (e.g, detection of Type A Influenza virus). Samples can also be sent from animals with more time of evolution to identify the secondary agents (e.g. isolation and antibiogram of Pasteurella multocida).

SHIPMENT OF SAMPLES FROM MORE THAN ONE ANIMAL: It is important to analyze several animals to ensure that the results obtained are representative of the process at group level.

CORRECT SAMPLING: Depending on the availability and purpose of the analysis (diagnosis of a clinical case or monitoring of the farm), the type of sample should be performed accordingly (organs, bronchioalveolar lavage/scraping, oral fluids, sera or environmental samples).



It is important to send the sample as soon as possible, so that it reaches the laboratory in less than 24 hours. Table 2 describes the conditions of shipment according to the type of sample. It is worth noting that the sample freezing can affect some techniques such as the microbiological isolation or histopathology.

In case of sample shipment, avoid those from animals dead several hours ago (especially in warm season).

The packaging must be hermetic and sufficiently protected to prevent the breakage during transport.

After death, autolysis and bacteria that are part of the intestinal microbiome begin to invade systemic organs, making difficult bacteria isolation. Autolysis will not allow an accurate histopathological diagnosis.

Sample report: the shipment must include a report with complete anamnesis (age, symptomatology, observed lesions, vaccinations received, treatments and history of pathologies of the exploitation), clinical suspicion and requested analysis.

ANIMALS NOT TREATED WITH ANTIBIOTICS: Antibiotics can inhibit bacterial isolation, reaching inconclusive results.

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Fattening farm with a capacity of 2,000 animals. Pigs of 80 kg who are apathetic and show respiratory symptoms (coughing and dyspnea). The percentage of deaths has increased.

Farm with 1,000 Iberian sows. The piglets in the transition presented sneezing, nasal discharge and coughing.

RECEIVED SAMPLES Lung with consolidated apical lobes from a dead animal.

RECEIVED SAMPLES Six piglet nasal swabs were received.


The presence of Bordetella bronchiseptica (etiological agent of non progressive atrophic rhinitis) and toxigenic Pasteurella multocida (etiological agent of progressive atrophic rhinitis) were detected in swabs.

Sample 1. His 1-3

Bordetella bronchiseptica


Toxigenic Pasteurella multocida





Toxigenic Pasteurella multocida




Sample 2. His 4-6

Bordetella bronchiseptica

Microbiological culture was performed and the presence of the main actors involved in respiratory problems in pigs was studied by qPCR: PRRS, Type 2 Circovirus, Type A Influenza virus, Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, Mycoplasma hyorhinis, Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, Actinobacillus suis, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Haemophilus parasuis, Pasteurella multocida and Streptococcus suis.





Quantification cycle: Amplification cycle from which the pathogen’s DNA can be detected. The Cq value is inversely proportional to the number of initial copies of the sample, so a lower value implies a higher load of the pathogen present in the analysed sample.

Only Escherichia coli was isolated by means of microbiological culture, an agent considered as a contamination of the sample and not pathogenic. After conducting a qPCR study on the lung of the above-mentioned agents, the sample tested positive for PRRS virus, in high concentration with a Cq value of 24.47 and was also obtained in medium concentration Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae with a Cq of 27.98.

CONCLUSION CASE 1 In this case, the presence of Bordetella bronchiseptica was confirmed, and the involvement of toxigenic Pasteurella multocida ruled out.

CONCLUSION CASE 2 We’re dealing with a case of enzootic pneumonia, caused by Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae with possible viral origin (PRRSV).

71 pigPorknews August 2020 | Diagnosis of respiratory processes in pigs

CASE 3: CASE DATA Sample: pool 5-6 weeks.

Transition farm with respiratory symptoms and cases of polyserositis. The problem begins a week after the piglets enter the transition farm. They are vaccinated against Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae and circovirus.

Recently weaned: 5-6 weeks old.

PRRS American strains


Type A Influenza


Type 2 Circovirus

Negative Negative

Mycoplasma hyorhinis


Haemophilus parasuis


Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae


Streptococcus suis


Pasteurella multocida


Bordetella bronchiseptica


PRRS European strains

DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS Streptococcus suis was isolated by microbiological culture in 3 of the lavages, and in the rest, no agent of interest was isolated (only bacteria that were considered as sample contaminants). The presence of the main agents involved in respiratory problems in pigs was carried out using qPCR in the lung samples.











Sample: pool 5-6 weeks


Transition: 7-8 weeks old.


Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae

RECEIVED SAMPLES Bronchioalveolar lavages of two ages:

PRRS European strains


PRRS American strains


Type A Influenza


Type 2 Circovirus


Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae


Mycoplasma hyorhinis


Haemophilus parasuis


Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae


Streptococcus suis


Pasteurella multocida


Bordetella bronchiseptica












CONCLUSION CASE 3 In both groups of samples the presence of type A Influenza is detected in high concentration that can act as a possible predisposing agent for respiratory problems. It would be interesting to perform the subtyping in order to implement prevention measures, such as the choice of a vaccine. In addition, the presence of 3 bacterial agents causing polyserositis processes were detected (M. hyorhinis, Haemophilus parasuis and Streptococcus suis), as well as Bordetella bronchiseptica, also involved in the porcine respiratory complex.

72 pigPorknews August 2020 | Diagnosis of respiratory processes in pigs

CASE 4: CASE DATA Breeding farm, with sows free of PRRS and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae. During the weekend there were 3 sow losses.



One lung from a dead sow. It shows consolidation and presence of necrotic foci.

DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS Pasteurella multocida and Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae were isolated in high concentration by microbiological culture. In addition, the presence of Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae and Pasteurella multocida were detected in high concentration in the lung by qPCR. Other agents involved in the porcine respiratory complex were also detected but at lower concentration (Circovirus type 2 and Streptococcus suis). To complete the diagnosis, the serotyping of Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae was performed on the lung, being positive for serotype 9/11. This information is important when it comes to conduct an epidemiological study or in the decision making for preventive actions.

CONCLUSION CASE 4 In conclusion, we are facing a case of porcine pleuropneumonia caused by serotype 9/11 of Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, in which other bacteria also seem to be involved, highlighting the presence of Pasteurella multocida.

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73 pigPorknews August 2020 | Diagnosis of respiratory processes in pigs


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