Sessions shed light on viral, bacterial, and production problems

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Dr. Steven C. Henry warned fellow veterinarians not to ignore pigs' coughs and runny noses.

The veterinarian from Abilene, Kan., compared dealing with swine influenza to frying fish outside. He said the cook needs to have one eye on the fish, one on the cat, and one on the clouds.

Dr. Henry presented one of several lectures on swine influenza virus at the American Association of Swine Practitioners' 40th Annual Meeting March 9 in Dallas. He talked about the need to quickly address SIV outbreaks as well as the need for vaccine specificity and difficulties in achieving that specificity.

Dr. Gillespie
Dr. Thomas G. Gillespie of Rensselaer Swine Services in Rensselaer, Ind., talks about lowering preweaning mortality rates during a lecture March 9 at the AASV Annual Meeting in Dallas.

Other lectures addressed treatments used to fight Actinobacillus suis infection, gilt development strategies throughout the pigs' lives, cross-protection between strains or genotypes of porcine circovirus, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, and efforts to control the prevalence of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae and A pleuropneumoniae infection.

Dr. Thomas G. Gillespie of Rensselaer Swine Services in Rensselaer, Ind., suggested practices to help farms reach a 7 percent preweaning mortality rate benchmark. He said improvements on farms start with an attitude or mindset of engagement among farm staff.

For example, sows have been induced to farrow too early for many years, historically for the convenience of staff because of weekends or holidays, he said.

Dr. Gillespie also encouraged veterinarians to have farm staff identify problem piglets and communicate across shifts.

Veterinarians can help maximize sow lactation through practices such as placing feed in water and having the most piglets possible suckling from each sow. Dr. Gillespie also encouraged allowing dams to nurse their own piglets for at least six hours.

Economist Dennis DiPietre, PhD, gave some outside perspective on the swine industry in his presentation, in which he talked about how meat production is increasingly being depicted as a central issue in global warming. He also noted that global population growth is occurring largely in areas with primarily vegetarian diets whereas pork demand has risen more because of the rise of global per capita income.

In talking about depictions of meat production, Dr. DiPietre cited an advertisement that states a person's fork contributes more to global warming than that person's car. Environmental activists are portraying meat producers as part of an industry that pays only part of the cost of production and fails to account for environmental and other external costs of production and delivery, he said.

Dr. DiPietre said there has to be widespread education and repositioning of the meaning and impact of U.S. agriculture. Criticisms of the industry are now becoming conventional wisdom, and he said the abundance of food produced by American agriculture that was once celebrated is now being cast as a negative.