Production of antibiotic-free pigs – tools and results
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The SafePork conference series began in 1996 to bring together international researchers, industry, and government agencies to discuss current Salmonella research and identify research needs pertaining to both pig and pork production. In subsequent years topics of research presented at these conferences expanded to include other chemical and biological hazards to pig and pork production.
The present paper describes preliminary results from a Danish project with production of antibiotic-free pigs. The project herd is a traditional Danish 500 sow herd with weaned pigs on the same site. 1/3 of the pigs are kept until slaughter on an adjacent farm and remaining pigs are sold to local finishing producers. Before initiation of the project, the herd had a consumption of antibiotics around 50% of the threshold given by the Danish authorities. However, the farmer took the challenge to produce pigs without any antibiotics at all, with the initial goal to deliver 50% antibiotic-free pigs for slaughter. The measures implemented were a stronger focus on management and vaccination against Lawsonia intracellularis on top of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae and PCV2 vaccination. The results are promising: In the first 6 months of the project, the herd has not only experienced reduced use of antibiotics, but also an increased productivity. The monthly prescriptions of antibiotics were lowered from 2.15 to 1.86 Animal Daily Doses (ADD) per 100 pigs per day in the sow herd and from 8.30 to 4.19 ADD/100 pigs/day in the weaners. Compared to the previous year, the piglet mortality in the farrowing unit dropped by 2.5 %, the average daily weight gain in weaners increased by 34 g/day and the feed conversion rate dropped by 0.15 FE/kg. Data from finishers are not yet available.