PRRS Intervention: What We're Doing

PRRS control is critical to the overall health of the pig and to the financial success of pig producers. As a management company and a veterinary clinic, we’re focused on the control of PRRS for our shareholders and customers.

We must control PRRS at Pipestone Management sow farms to provide a PRRS-negative pig to the wean-finish producer. This will give the producer a better chance for healthier and more profitable turn of pigs.

Our goal at the sow farm level has been to eliminate the resident PRRS virus from the breeding herds. To prevent new infections, we’ve focused our biosecurity efforts in two areas:

  1. Prevention of mechanical transmission of the PRRS virus on people, supplies, equipment, and vehicles.
  2. Reduction of aerosol transmission of the PRRS virus though filtration technology, for those sow farms located in pig-dense regions.

We frequently audit the biosecurity measures we’ve set in place for both areas, especially aerosol biosecurity. We test to make sure the filters are functioning properly and that unfiltered air is not back-drafting into the sow barns.

New research suggests what you can do
The other part of an effective PRRS control is what happens when the pig gets to the wean-to-finish farm. We encourage producers to follow many of the same principles we’re using in the sow barns, such as cleaning equipment, supplies, and vehicles. PRRS vaccines can also be an effective tool in the wean-to-finish phase.

We recently completed a trial at our research farm which measured two things:

  1. Whether the use of vaccine reduces the aerosol shedding of the PRRS virus and
  2. Whether PRRS-vaccinated pigs show an advantage at market time.

We kept a group of vaccinated pigs and group of non-vaccinated pigs in separate rooms. Each group became infected with the PRRS field virus.

First, we measured how much the pigs shed PRRS into the air. We concluded that the non-vaccinated pigs shed the virus much longer than the vaccinated pigs. The vaccinated pigs shed PRRS for five days versus 27 days for the unvaccinated pigs.

Secondly, performance of the vaccine group of pigs was better. Average daily gain was significantly higher for vaccinate (1.65) than the non-vaccinates (1.59). There were considerably fewer cull pigs in the vaccinated group. In the trial, we measured a $4.35 per pig total opportunity cost for vaccinating.

The take-home from this trial is that use of PRRS vaccine in nursery and finishing pigs reduces the amount of PRRS shedding to the neighbors, so it is good for biosecurity of the industry. It also results in improved performance for pigs infected with the PRRS field virus. We recommend the use of the modified live PRRS vaccine in growing and finishing barns in regions where barns are likely to become infected with the field virus.

Pipestone Veterinary Clinic will continue to develop techniques and find solutions that help our customers by testing them under real world conditions.