Winter Disease Control In Pigs

When temperatures fall below freezing, pigs should be protected from the wind and provided with bedding. Unfortunately, pigs in close quarters spread diseases to each other. If there’s a ventilation system in the building, it provides an opportunity for things to circulate through the air. Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, or PRRS, is a virus that often rears its ugly head once the barn is closed up.

Paul Sundberg is the executive director of the Swine Health Information Center. He says diligent cleaning and disinfecting is a must. But whatever your protocol is to prevent disease from spreading in the herd, it has to be consistent.

"The implementation every day, the same thing happening every day, is the hard part. You can have great biosecurity guidelines and standards for all of your production, but if you don’t implement them and make sure that they’re rigorous every day, then something’s going to happen," says Sundberg.

The other key is to talk with your veterinarian every time there is an animal health issue and get a professional diagnosis.

"Don’t ever assume that you know what you’re having," he says. "Because it looks like what we had last time, so we don’t have to call doc, it’s not a good idea because there might be something that mimics another disease that you need to be able to find out. We know for example that African Swine Fever looks like a bad PRRS outbreak. It looks like a bad salmonella outbreak. And without a good diagnosis, it could get missed."

Pigs that do get sick should be isolated in a designated “sick pen” so they’re not in continuous contact with the rest of the herd.