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Steve Dunkley

Head of Knowledge Exchange (Interim)

AHDB Pork KE

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Cost benefit analysis of health management strategies in finishing pigs

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Research partners: Newcastle University and Thirsk VLA

Sponsor: AHDB Pork-funded studentship (Yolande Seddon)

Duration: 2007 - 2010 

Aims and objectives

The focus was to evaluate effective strategies that would aid in improving the monitoring and control of endemic disease within the finishing herd, yet could be employed by producers immediately, at little or no extra cost. 

Study 1

This study began by comparing the use of all-in all-out (AIAO) and continuous flow (CF) systems for finishing pigs with or without a disinfection routine. 

Study 2

The efficiency of using cotton rope to collect pooled oral fluid (comprising mainly of saliva) samples from groups of pigs was examined, allowing whole pens to be screened for diagnostic purposes from just one sample. 

Study 3

This study explored the possibility of utilising a pooled oral fluid sample for detection of sub-clinical disease in groups of pigs by monitoring the levels of APPs. 

Study 4

The use of water consumption data to monitor pig performance and provide an early warning of disease outbreaks was investigated. 

Findings to date 

Study 1

Analysis of blood samples from this trial indicated an elevation in Acute Phase Proteins (APPs), generalised markers of activation of the pig’s immune system, in less hygienic environments. These APPs might provide a useful index of the level of subclinical challenge compromising performance. 

Study 3

The concentration of APPs in blood serum correlated to the levels in oral fluid, indicating that the use of oral fluid for APP testing is a feasible, non-invasive method. 

Further information

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