In the year since Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) was confirmed in the United States, pork producers, veterinarians, researchers and many others have been working diligently to find ways to prevent the virus from entering herds, especially sow herds.
While PEDv has been reported in other countries over the years, there had never been a PEDv case in the U.S., so the country’s swine population has no immunity to the virus. The virus causes diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration, and is most devastating to pre-weaned pigs. On sow farms, there is a nearly 100 percent mortality rate for pigs less than 7 days old that contract the virus.
One theory has emerged that the virus can be carried in animal protein products such as porcine plasma protein that is used in the diets of young pigs to help stimulate feed intake and growth. Pipestone has taken plasma protein and other animal protein products out of the gilt development and multiplication rations as more research on the theory is conducted.
“We are taking all possible precautions to try and prevent the virus from entering sow barns,” said Casey Neill, nutritionist for Pipestone.
Plasma and other animal sourced products have been replaced with additional fish meal, amino acids and soy products. The remainder of the ration has stayed consistent. Initial feedback on the ration changes has been positive, and Pipestone will launch a side-by-side research trial later this summer on pigs fed a nursery diet with animal protein vs. without.
“We’re fortunate to have a 2,400 head weaned to finish research barn that allows us to conduct nutrition and production research trials,” said Neill. “It gives us solid and scientific data to constantly improve our nutrition program and provide better care for our pigs.”
While one focus is on plasma products, Neill emphasized the importance of maintaining high levels of biosecurity controls from all feed sources.
“Biosecurity from all angles is getting more and more attention,” said Neill. “For a number of years, we’ve focused on human biosecurity with things like shower in/shower out and other practices, but now we’re putting a new focus on biosecurity in feed, trucking, and everything else that comes into contact with barns and animals.”
Pipestone is actively working with feed mills, truckers, and others to eliminate as many sources of contamination as possible for all feed ingredients.
“Everything is subject to being contaminated,” said Neill. “From commodity piles that can be comingled to trucks that aren’t washed out properly between loads, it is a constant challenge to keep everything as clean as possible.”
Casey Neill joined Pipestone in 2013 as a nutritionist where he provides nutrition and diets for GDU, sow and commercial WF pigs. He also spent 6 1/2 years as a nutritionist with PIC where he formulated the genetic nucleus farm’s nutrition and multipliers, and traveled to eighteen countries helping with swine nutrition and production. In that role, he spent 5 years working with Pipestone System barns, so he is very familiar with Pipestone’s management system. Neill grew up on a farm in northeast Kansas and earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and master’s degree in swine nutrition at Kansas State University.