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Pork CRC Sees Scientists Right at Pig Vets Meeting

by 5m Editor
4 July 2011, at 11:32am

AUSTRALIA - Ileitis, a common disease of grower and finisher pigs that can cost producers between $8 and $13 per pig if not controlled, will be the subject of an address at the 2011 Australian Pig Vets meeting in Melbourne in July.

The Pork Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) is a major sponsor, supporting keynote speakers Dr Alison Collins and Dr Huub Brouwers of the NSW Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI), Dr Megan Edwards of ACE Livestock Consulting, Dr Sue Yen Woon of Rivalea and Professor Mary Barton of University of South Australia.


Dr Alison Collins will update pig veterinarians at the 2011 Australian Pig Vets meeting in Melbourne, 24-26 July, on her research on diagnostic tests for ileitis, a common disease of grower and finisher pigs that can cost producers between $8 and $13 per pig. Here, she addresses producers on ileitis at last month's Pork CRC Gold Sponsored 2011 Victorian Pig Fair in Bendigo.

Dr Alison Collins has researched ileitis and with Pork CRC support is developing two new diagnostic tests to help veterinarians and producers manage the disease.

The first test is designed to be easy to use ‘on-farm’ and is intended to confirm if ileitis is causing scouring in individual pigs.

The second is a laboratory test that can quantify the number of Lawsonia, the bacteria which cause ileitis, shed in pig dung. Currently available tests don’t differentiate between low and high numbers of bacteria.

"Use of both these tests will help producers evaluate the efficacy of vaccination, antibiotic medication, timing of medication strategies and improved hygiene, to control ileitis and reduce associated production losses," Dr Collins said.

Dr Huub Brouwers is part of a group at EMAI that studied the ecology of pig intestinal microflora, using techniques that explore bacterial DNA and virulence determinants.

This research has led to the selection of E. coli probiotic candidates that have been used successfully in laboratory studies.

"While these organisms don’t cause disease, they have the capacity to block the proliferation of those that do, hence field trials are underway on properties in NSW and Queensland to further test efficacy," Dr Brouwers said.

Dr Megan Edwards’ Pork CRC supported PhD research found advantage in creep diets containing spray-dried porcine plasma and pre-weaning exposure to creep feed, with benefits more pronounced in progeny of primiparous sows and piglets that weighed less than 8kg at 28 days.

Reduced mortality and morbidity through the nursery phase was associated with beneficial manipulation of intestinal microflora and down regulation of the immune system in the acute post-weaning period.

"Interestingly, benefits of the nutritional strategies tested not only influenced enteric diseases, but also susceptibility of weaners to respiratory diseases," Dr Edwards said.

According to veterinarian and Pork CRC Sub-Programme Manager, Dr Ross Cutler, probiotics provide a complex research environment.

"Historically, findings have been very mixed, but the EMAI results look promising.

"For the Pork CRC project, EMAI has formed a partnership with International Animal Health, meaning the path to field adoption, solutions and market is relatively assured, almost as soon as positive results are demonstrated," Dr Cutler said.

Dr Mary Barton’s research is examining how to use bacteriophage, or naturally occurring viruses that attack bacteria, to control post weaning E. coli disease.

Dr Cutler said that the field had been researched by Russian scientists for the past 40 years, but its direct application is still probably some time away.

"Mary’s presentation will bring Australian vets up to speed on new developments in a rapidly changing field, as the way animal industries are able to use antibiotics is changing worldwide.

"On some farms microbial resistance to medications necessitates changed practices and the Pork CRC research is playing a major role in identifying those practices," he said.

Researching baby pig survival, Dr Sue Yen Woon has harvested sow serum at slaughter and used it as a ‘vehicle’ to deliver Immunoglobin G (IgG) to young pigs.

According to Dr Cutler, IgG is usually delivered naturally via colostrum, with small pigs, or those born late, being at high risk if receiving low levels from their mothers.

"While Sue Yen could not improve survival, her Pork CRC supported work provides valuable insight for those trying to improve baby pig survival," Dr Cutler concluded.

According to Pork CRC CEO, Dr Roger Campbell, the Melbourne meeting of pig veterinarians working on-farm with pork producers will allow Pork CRC research findings to be vigorously debated, subsequently assisting the important adoption and commercialisation process.

Australian Pig Vets, a special interest group of the Australian Veterinary Association, will hold its meeting on 24-26 July at Rydges Hotel, Flemington Rd., North Melbourne.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on ileitis by clicking here.