Farm Management

Welcoming Pigs and Visitors to the Farm

February 3, 2015

With the opening of a demonstration farm for IMPROVEST® (gonadotropin releasing factor analog – diphtheria toxoid conjugate), biosecurity is a key concern. We know having a thorough biosecurity program is effective and practical for preventing the spread of disease and maintaining pig health. Now, with heightened awareness due to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), I want to emphasize that this farm is typical of most U.S. production systems. As such, we adhere to the same barn procedures and security protocols.

With a new immunological castration technology such as IMPROVEST that is multidimensional in how it works, it is critical for pork producers and meat packers to see firsthand the performance of pigs that are raised as intact males. Therefore, it’s important to not only provide exposure to this technology but also demonstrate it in a real-world environment that can be replicated in another farming system.

My facility has an all-in, all-out pig flow and consists of one nursery room (250 pigs) and one finishing room (250 pigs). Visitors don’t need to shower on site, but the customary change of clothes and boots is standard. Prior to the arrival of our pigs, I took several steps to ensure their safe transition to our farm:

  • We washed and disinfected the nursery.
  • We sourced piglets from a porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) naïve farm that were in good health.
  • We used a dedicated trailer to transport the piglets to the facility.
  • We vaccinated all piglets with FosteraTM PCV MH upon arrival and ear-tagged them so we can identify all pigs in the facility.

There’s only one management practice that differs from a standard nursery-to-finish operation: We hand weigh the feed into each of the nursery and finishing pens. This allows us to calculate performance of weight gain and feed conversion of the whole group as well as individual pens. I’m responsible for day-to-day farm activities, while Zoetis directly administers and implements IMPROVEST. Farms that adopt IMPROVEST will receive management training to ensure that quality assurance and compliance systems are in place. Dosing and timing requirements are important with this technology.

While IMPROVEST brings with it some production changes, the benefits far outweigh these implementation considerations. We’ll touch on those benefits in future blog posts.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: Pregnant women should not administer Improvest. Women of childbearing age should exercise extreme caution when administering this product. Exercise special care to prevent accidental self-injection because of negative effects on reproductive physiology in both men and women. However, there is no risk associated with consuming pork from animals administered this product. Improvest should not be used in female pigs, barrows, or male pigs intended for breeding. Click here for full Prescribing Information.