Increase in milk spot liver rates prompts pig worming alert

Elanco Animal Health has urged producers to ensure they have a strategic worming programme in place following a “worrying increase in milk spot lesions in pigs slaughtered in England” as revealed in the latest survey data from the BPEX Pig Health Scheme.

The company point out that in April last year 294 of the 19,692 pigs assessed under the scheme had milk spot livers while in January this year the figure was 403 of 18,431 pigs, an increase of 27%.

Elanco’s Phil Macdonald said the “escalation” underlines the urgent need for producers to ensure they have a strategic worming programme in place. 

“Programmes need to be based on the pre-patent period of worms, so that treatment interrupts their life cycle,” he said. “They also need to cover every pig on a unit, otherwise there is a higher potential for reinfection.”

Adding that, in the current tough economic climate, it was likely that some producers have been tempted to cut spending in areas such as worming, he warned that such action carried “quite a risk”.

According to Elanco, research shows that with liver condemnations at 20% in a consignment, the losses in average daily gain alone costs units about £9 for every slaughter pig, not only those with milk spot.

“Worm infestations can harm growth rate and feed efficiency, they can reduce abattoir returns and increase the cost of medication,” said Mr Macdonald. “To overcome these losses, strategic worming programmes should be based on a broad spectrum anthelmintic such as Flubenol.”

He also stressed the importance of the strategic worming of outdoor pigs, where the environment is more difficult to control. 

“A worming programme should be part of the planning when moving outdoor pigs to a fresh site, to limit the risk of bringing in potential worm burdens with the pigs,” he said.

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