This research was carried out to analyse the visits specialists of the Dutch Animal Health Service made to growing and fattening pig farms. The type and frequency of the visits and identified herd-health management factors that did not meet accepted standards were investigated. In total 373 visit reports were studied. The majority of the visits (n=306 of 373) were made to investigate the cause of health, welfare, and performance problems ('problem-solving visits'). Respiratory disorders were the main reason for requesting a specialist to assess farm conditions and management (n=156). In the other 67 of 373 visit reports the specialists screened for herd-health management factors that did not meet standards for the prevention of disease ('screening visits'). For both types of visits, the main factors detected were abrupt changes in feeding regimens (e.g. changes in feed type, feed composition or feed supplier) (37%), inadequate measures to prevent introduction of pathogens by people and trucks (83%), and incorrect adjustment of the ventilation system (58-60%). The specialists focusing on housing-climate management, identified the majority of factors in an equal number irrespective of whether the visit was a problem-solving visit or a screening visit. This implies that even on farms that appear not to have health or performance problems, factors that relate to disease are present and may cause problems sooner or later. Although veterinary practitioners and other farm advisors assist farmers in their management to optimize herd health, the findings of the research suggest that advisors could provide additional support in situations where environmental and managerial factors play a role in pig health and performance. The knowledge of advisors about integrated herd-health management can be broadened by means of textbooks, courses, or computer programs.
|Publication status||Published - 1998|