In the past 2 weeks I’ve been to 2 professional meetings. After attending the American Society of Animal Science Midwest Section meetings in Des Moines and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians meetings in Dallas, Texas, I’m full of enthusiasm for the many new products and applications that will become available in the future.
At both meetings there were several presentations on the use of circovirus vaccines. Everyone is in agreement that the widespread adoption of vaccine circovirus vaccine usage has greatly improved pig performance and reduced death loss in finishers. While the vaccine is relatively expensive ($1.50-1.75/pig is a common cost estimate), most producers still view use as a very worthwhile investment.
However, there are increasing reports of negative pig responses to the vaccine immediately post injection. Researchers from Kansas State University reported on trials where use of a 2 dose protocol resulted in a decline in daily gain and daily feed intake immediately after administration of the second dose. This decline resulted in an approximately 1 pound lighter pig at the end of the nursery phase of production. Likewise, administration of the vaccine at weaning resulted in a delay in pigs eating feed, etc.
There is considerable interest in use of products that offset or at least reduce this negative impact. In the coming months you will be hearing several companies talk about water and feed additives that reduce the 1 pound lag noted by K State researchers. While not all of the data is in yet, it does look like there may be some merit in the idea of setting up the pig’s response to the vaccine.
I’m not a virologist and don’t fully understand all the implications of vaccine use and the pigs antibody and other defense mechanisms response to the vaccine. However, as scientists gain a better understanding of these mechanisms, we can expect to see vaccines targeted at specific components of the response mechanism, as well as products that enhance the response of this component that are given via feed and water.
As always, when you are presented with these products, be sure and ask for data to support the claim. When evaluating the data, consider the conditions of the trial, the replication of the treatments, and the variation in the response.
Well conducted and replicated trials, with appropriate statistical analysis are worth quite a bit when making product decisions, especially if the only alternative is ‘We did one barn with xyz and the other barn with abc and xyz was better’. A healthy dose of skepticism should be used in these situations.