New analysis of pig disease costs

A detailed literature analysis to establish the cost of a range of pig diseases has “suggested” that endemic production diseases are likely to cost €30-40 (£21-28) per finished pig, according to the PROHEALTH consortium, which runs what is claimed to be “the largest European animal health project”.

Backed by 22 research, commercial and advisory partners, the consortium’s aim is to help combat production diseases in pigs and poultry. As part of its current programme, therefore, the consortium has looked at disease costs across the production range for pigs.

On respiratory diseases, PROHEALTH’s analysis suggests that a single type of respiratory disease in pigs can reduce economic returns by around £3.30 per finished pig. It was also added, however, that several diseases can occur in the herd simultaneously, pushing up total costs well above this estimate.

“On average, Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae and Porcine Respiratory Disease Complex (PRDC) reduced the return by £3 per pig while Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae reduced returns by £4.50 per pig in an affected herd,” stated PROHEALTH. “For comparison, the impact of a well-studied non-production disease, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), has been estimated at a loss of about £5 per pig.”

In looking at mortality, reproductive failures and lameness in pigs, the consortium said the reduction in returns due to pre-weaning mortality was between £8.50 and £16.25 per litter, with post-weaning mortality costing between £1.40 and £2.80 per pig.

“Case-by-case costs of reproductive failures and lameness can be substantial,” added PROHEALTH. “For instance, premature replacement of a sow because of disorders in reproduction may cost between £105 and €118 per replaced sow. The cost of mastitis or the complex syndrome ‘Mastitis, Metritis and Agalactia’ (MMA) can range up to £67 per affected sow. In the most severe cases the impacts can be even larger.

“The best estimates of costs of lameness are available on a ‘per lame pig’ basis. Depending on the cause of lameness, the cost in finishing pigs reported by the literature ranged from £8.50 to £47.35 per lame pig. In sows, the costs ranged from €102.50 to £127 per lame sow.”

Following its analysis with a “what next?” question, the consortium warned that production diseases can cause substantial economic losses to pig farms if the health situation at the farm is not under control.

“However, these can be reduced by interventions such as improved nutrition, hygiene and other management practices, vaccination and genetic selection of animals,” said PROHEALTH.

“The usefulness of interventions may vary case-by-case, however. Therefore, in the next few months our team will examine which interventions would be the most effective in reducing production diseases, taking into account the overall cost-benefit ratios of the intervention and the impacts on animal welfare, as well as farmer and consumer acceptance of the intervention strategies.”

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