On the basis of recent research on Porcine Circovirus 2 (PCV2), French Animal Health company Merial has launched a renewed plea for whole herd vaccination.
In a press release, the company’s veterinary adviser Brian Rice stated that vets and producers in the pig industry should consider not just vaccinating piglets.
“There has been increasing evidence showing how PCV2 damages sow performance. In addition to its affect on offspring, the virus has also been linked with poor reproductive performance and abortions. Recent research also indicates that the impact of PCV2 on naïve gilts can be quite significant,” Rice says.
The company pointed to research conducted in France and presented at the latest International Pig Veterinary Society Congress in Vancouver, Canada (2010). Trials were done on two groups of gilts – 165 that were not vaccinated against PCV2 and 165 that were vaccinated with the company’s vaccine Circovac, developed for use in sows and increasingly approved for use in piglets too.
A number of key measurements demonstrated the benefits of PCV2 vaccination. Return to oestrus was nearly three times as likely among the non-vaccinated gilts compared to the vaccinated ones at 5.1% versus 1.8%.
Abortions were reduced by than half among the vaccinated gilts at 3.6% compared to 7.3%, and the percentage farrowing was nearly 7% higher among vaccinated gilts (90.5% against 83.9%).
Professor Hans Nauwynck, of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Ghent University, said: “Be careful with high health status gilts introduced on to commercial farms. With PCV2 negative gilts, I recommend that you vaccinate them – just like you would for parvovirus prevention.”
A study conducted by Leeds University for the British Pig Executive (BPEX) showed that the most effective form of vaccination for piglets against PCV2 was to vaccinate both sows and piglets (although just vaccinating sows is the most cost-effective method. This research was also presented in Vancouver.
However, Rice pointed out that sow vaccination has a number of benefits in its own right. He said: “For sows, as well as gilts, PCV2 vaccination has a number of clear economic benefits. Piglets born from vaccinated sows have a higher birthweight and continue to grow quicker resulting in fewer days to slaughter. Also vaccinated sows have a better reproductive performance. Research carried out in the UK showed that vaccinated sows produced almost one extra piglet per litter.
“In the light of all the current evidence, vets and producers need to consider a strategy for PCV2 vaccination which takes into account the whole herd including sows and gilts, not just piglets,” said Rice.