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Ben Williams

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AHDB Pork Knowledge Exchange

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Electrostatic Particle Ionisation

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Electrostatic particle ionisation (EPI) creates a static charge (through a high voltage, low amperage, current connected to a corona bar) to particles in the atmosphere, causing them to fall where they are no longer available for inhalation by stock or staff.

Research partners: Harper Adams

Sponsors: AHDB Pork

Project duration: 2016 - ongoing

Aims and objectives

To further determine if EPI equipment can play an important role in improving pig health.

The trial

The initial EPI trial, at Harper Adams university pig unit, concluded in September 2016 that pigs kept under the EPI equipment were significantly less likely to have enzootic pneumonia (EP) like lesions.

The study was extended to include BPHS data from more batches kept in normal/‘control’ conditions and under the EPI equipment/‘test’ conditions. The addition of a random effect to account for batch was the only alteration to the original model.

Findings to date

  • Pigs kept under EPI grew on average 13 grams per day faster than the control pigs (when pigs of the same gender and slaughter “draw” is compared).
  • In the second study, the reduction in the incidence of pleurisy at slaughter of pigs reared under EPI treated air doubled. This can now be classed as statically significant in research terms, rather than a trend.
  • Further analysis shows that the probability of EPI air treatment reducing EP likely lesions at slaughter in the animals included in the study has weakened from the first study (from around 4.5 times less likely to have an EP like lesion in the original two batches to around 2.5 times less likely in 6 batches studied on this occasion). This indicates a trend rather than statistical significance in research terms.
  • The extension of the work, whilst altering some of the significance levels surrounding the analysis, has eliminated the concerns around a “batch” effect masking any benefit/drawback of the equipment and clearly demonstrates a benefit in respiratory health to the pigs kept under EPI that were assessed for this study.

Next steps: More work is planned to investigate the impact the equipment has on ammonia emissions.

Photo story: Improving air quality

Linked project work: Development of an ammonia and carbon dioxide sensor for pig buildings