Interest in animal health has exploded in recent years. In connection with the Subsidy Scheme for Rehabilitation of Pig Farms (Srv), pig breeders have stopped and there are pig breeders who used the poor market prices to use depop repop. Has the overall health level of Dutch pig breeding improved as a result?
Commercial manager Ger Spreeuwenberg from Topigs Norsvin Holland and director Stefan Derks from Class AI answer with a resounding ‘yes’. In recent years, progress has been made in pig health. The number of SPF companies is growing, breeding farms export only very healthy animals, and there is more and more ongoing monitoring of the pigs, they say.
Knowledge within SPF companies, companies that are free of specific bacteria, is growing, and so is the interest in them. More and more pig farmers are seeing the benefits of having such a business, running their business completely empty and starting up again.
Spreeuwenberg: ‘At Topigs Norsvin Nederland, the number of SPF sows has increased by 13,000 sows, about 35 percent, in one year. In total, we currently have around 50,000 SPF lakes. That’s about 10 percent of all our customers in numbers. I expect this figure to continue to rise in the coming years due to the good results achieved by these SPF companies. ‘
Knowledge about the health of neighborhood farms is essential for your own pig farm
Because there are more SPF companies, more and more numbers about this type of companies are becoming available. According to Spreeuwenberg and Derks, these results are positive: lower health care costs and more growth. ‘Each SPF pig gives at least 10 euros extra. With the current feed price, it can even be 12 or 13 euros per. pig ‘, says Derks.
These good results arouse the curiosity of other pig breeders. “In the past, a very healthy company was seen as more dubious. By sharing experiences from pig breeders who have an SPF company, substantiated by numbers, more and more pig breeders see that it really pays to have pigs in high health, “says Derks. “It seems like an oil slick.”
Derks notes that the economic picture often still holds back pig farmers. ‘The trick is to fund a depop repop. This is certainly a challenge in the current market situation. Renewal of the sow herd and the temporary idleness on the holding, in combination with adjustments made at that time on the holding, easily costs 500 euros per. Still, he expects more and more pig farmers will see the benefits and give in.
But just performing a depop repop is not enough. Pathogens must be kept out. The bacterium Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae can be easily remedied when a depop repop is performed. But it is not easy for all swine diseases.
Spread with air
Derks: ‘It is important to distinguish between bacteria that spread through the air and those that do not. Despite the use of excellent biosafety, pathogens such as mycoplasma and PRRS still enter the barn easily via the air intake. ‘
An air filtration system in the barn can offer a solution. But also because of the number of companies that stopped under Srv, fewer virus particles spread through the air.
“In some areas, the pig sector is quite intensive. The spread of some pathogens can then proceed quickly, ‘explains Derks. ‘The fewer companies there are within a radius of 4 to 5 kilometers around the company, the less the chance of introducing and spreading bacteria.’
Communication is the key
According to Derks, it is important that hearings take place within the area in pig-rich areas. In his view, it is not happening enough. ‘Pig breeders do not know disease status on surrounding farms. If a company uses depop repop, but mycoplasma or PRRS multiplies in the environment, there is a good chance that the animals on the farm will be infected again within a year. If you want to do it right, you have to have a common approach. ‘
Such a common approach is already used in Denmark. ‘All Danish pig breeders are connected to the SPF-SuS system. Disease status for each company can be seen via the UBN number. A great system to set up a common approach from. Every pig farmer knows the status of the surrounding businesses’, says Derks.
In order to raise the level of health in Dutch pig farming to an even higher level, Derks considers cooperation and consultation between companies to be significant.
‘As a breeding organization, we create a very healthy range’
Topigs Norsvin Nederland and DanBred are committed to pig health. ‘To be able to transport genetics around the world, you have to work with a high level of health’, says Stefan Derks from DanBred. ‘For example, there is an animal health law that says that pig semen may not be exported if the station is not completely free of PRRS.’ All DanBred pigs are therefore SPF and Topigs Norsvin has also made an SPF series. Both organizations carry out ongoing monitoring of their animals to ensure that no new disease is transmitted to other farms.