'Tis the season to get ready for winter in pig barns across North America. Another year is almost in the books, but there is no rest for pig farmers. Before the cold sets in and the snow piles up, there are many areas that need to be looked at to ensure pigs have the best living conditions and environment for the winter.
There is more to fear than cold during this time period. There is always the potential for spikes in disease challenges at this time of year due to the absence of heat and dry conditions, which normally keep viruses at bay. It wasn’t too long ago that PEDv stepped in to disrupt the industry. Making sure that similar challenges don’t have the opportunity to hit a peak during this season must be a focus.
Five ways to prep pigs for winter
- Herd flow: With the high potential risk for reinfection or spreading of viruses, it is essential to make sure there are proper checkpoints for identifying infected animals and separating them from the rest of the herd. Conduct proper observance of the quarantine of replacement breeding stock with test and release procedures.
- Cleanliness: Severely cold temperatures make it extremely difficult to wash, clean and disinfect. Ensure all areas are completely clean and dry before exposing new pigs to them.
- Transportation: Animals coming in and going out are at risk for exposure to the transportation vehicles the operation is using. Guarantee their rides are completely clean and are from trusted sources that understand your biosecurity protocols.
- Employees: Examine foot traffic and implement proper biosecurity measures for employees in order to reduce risk, as employees can often work in different barns and, in some cases, for different producers. Reduce and restrict points of entry to breeding facilities.
- Nutrition: Animal performance is often dependent on feed quality and the performance of the feed itself. Include technologies in the feed that reduce the risk of pathogens and build immunity.
This winter, we will also see the new regulations limiting the use of antibiotics go into effect in the U.S. Therefore, it is very important to start having conversations with your veterinarian in order to prepare for the Veterinarian Feed Directive (VFD). For a quick overview of the VFD and what it means for your operation, you can watch our webinar featuring Dr. Chris Rademacher, senior clinician at Iowa State University.