Study at reducing pleuritis in slaughter pigs
A study instigated by the Product Boards for Livestock,
Meat and Eggs together with the Animal Sciences Group, VC Someren and Intervet
investigated whether the number of slaughter pigs with pleuritis can be reduced.
In the Netherlands, the prevalence of chronic pleuritis in slaughter pigs has
increased from 12% in1990 to 22.5% in 2004. The aim of the study was to
determine whether restricted contact structures (strict all-in allout and no
regrouping and mixing of pigs) reduces the number of slaughter pigs with
Pigs from 171 litters were monitored from birth to slaughter at the
Experimental Farm Sterksel. Four production groups were monitored.
There were two experimental treatments:
1) Mixing (control group): Cross-fostering was allowed
between all litters in the control group. At weaning, all litters were mixed and
piglets in a pen were blocked by body weight. After 5Â½ weeks, pigs were moved to
the grower and finisher rooms. Pigs were mixed again and blocked by body
2) Non-mixing (experimental group): Cross-fostering was only
allowed within three days after birth and between two litters. From three days
after birth till delivery to the slaughter house, litters were kept together. At
weaning, litters from one farrowing room were placed in one room for weaned
piglets. After 5Â½ weeks, litters from one room for weaned piglets were placed in
one room for growing and finishing pigs. A strict hygiene protocol was used for
the pigs in the non-mixing group.
The main results and conclusions of this study are:
- Piglets in the non-mixing group grew faster during the
suckling period and were heavier at weaning than piglets in the mixing group.
- Piglet mortality during the suckling period did not
differ between the mixing and the non-mixing group.
- Inthe mixing group more piglets were treated for
- Daily gain, feed intake, feed conversion ratio,
mortality and number of piglets that were veterinary treated were similar in
weaned piglets in the mixing and non-mixing group.
- Growing and finishing pigs in the non-mixing group
grew faster (16g/d) and had thicker muscles at slaughter (1.1 mm) than those
in the mixing group. Feed intake and feed conversion was similar in both
- The variation in slaughter weight was similar in the
mixing and non-mixing group. Thus, variation in slaughter weight did not
increase by keeping litters together.
- The percentage of slaughter pigs with pneumonia was
10.3% in the mixed group and 5.9% in the nonmixing group. Thus, pneumonia was
decreased with more than 40% by not mixing the pigs.
- Pleuritis was only found in one production group. The
numbers of pigs with pleuritis in this production group were similar in the
mixing and non-mixing group.
- At the end of the weaning period, yield minus costs
per delivered piglet did not differ between the mixing and the non-mixing
- Gross margin per delivered growing and finishing pig was € 2.10 higher in
the non-mixing group than in the mixing group.
This study shows that contact structures between pigs can be reduced under
farm conditions. This results in improved performance, less respiratory diseases
and lower costs for treatment. By reducing contact structures the pig farmer is
able to improve pig health.
â€¢ VC- Someren
â€¢ Intervet (in Dutch)
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