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Field trials suggest that lawsonia vaccination could boost pig performance

Clinical trials run by MSD Animal Health find that lawsonia vaccination increases pig performance by 60g per pig.

28 July 2020, at 7:53am

Recent trials found that vaccinating for Lawsonia intracellularis, the bacteria that causes ileitis, can increase pig unit productivity and average daily live weight gain (DLWG) by 60g/pig.

Rubén Del Pozo Sacristán, technical manager for Pigs at MSD Animal Health UK, a division of Merck & Co, explains that Lawsonia intracellularis causes diarrhoea and a reduction in feed conversion efficiency (FCE), meaning the disease can significantly impact pig growth rates and ultimately productivity of the unit.

“As vaccination is the only way to prevent this often undiagnosed disease, MSD Animal Health UK has recently launched a new vaccine to tackle this hidden issue,” says Dr Del Pozo.

“An unpublished study, carried out in the Netherlands in 2019, found that pigs vaccinated with Porcilis Lawsonia at three weeks of age were protected against the disease until slaughter (24 weeks of age).

“The trial also found that the vaccination helped with overall pig performance as animals weren't being challenged with the disease. They found there was an increase in average DLWG by 60g/pig, and FCE improved from 2.5 to 2.2, which is significant,” he says.

“The mortality rate of the herd reduced from 3.8 percent to 2.3 percent overall, which includes deaths from other factors.

Lawsonia intracellularis and the subsequent ileitis is an example of a disease that all pig farmers must learn to manage. And experiences from the field have shown us that in this case, ‘prevention is better than cure’.

“I’d recommend speaking to your vet about diagnosing the problem first and then establishing and implementing a vaccination programme and a robust herd health plan to help prevent the disease and subsequent performance issues,” concludes Dr Del Pozo.