2020 | by A.H. Stygar, I. Chantziaras, I. Toppari, D. Maes, J. K. Niemi | Print Article

In order to reduce antimicrobial use in pig production, the consequences of insufficient biosecurity and welfare problems need to be known. This study aimed to investigate associations between the number of antimicrobial treatments per fattening pig, and biosecurity, indicators for animal welfare as well as the prevalence of lesions at slaughter. The data used in this study were extracted from the pig health and welfare classification system (Sikava), which gathers data on medicine usage, meat inspection, animal welfare and the condition of farm buildings from over 95% of pig production in Finland. The data were registered during years from 2011 to 2013. Upon antimicrobial prescription, information on the number of fattening pigs treated and the main reason for treatment was recorded. In addition, at least 4 times per year, pig farms registered in Sikava were visited by the farm veterinarian who assessed, among other things, biosecurity and indicators for animal welfare (air quality, condition of facilities, cleanliness, enrichment and stocking density). Finally, data from slaughterhouse inspections were collected (number of carcasses with joint infection, abscesses, lung lesions, pleurisy and liver lesions). For analysis, these datasets were aggregated at the farm level to a quarter of a year. During the studied period, the mean number of antimicrobial treatments per fattening pig per 3 months was equal to 0.09. The main reasons for antimicrobial treatments were musculoskeletal diseases, tail biting and respiratory disorders (42, 33 and 12% of diagnoses, respectively). The meat inspection scoring indicated that as much as 14.7% of all pigs had pleurisy, 5.3% liver lesions and 4.1% abscesses. A standard zero-inflated negative binomial model was used to identify factors associated with the number of antimicrobial treatments per pig. The count of antimicrobial treatments per pig increased with the size of a farm. Regardless of prevalence of lesions, farms with poor drinking equipment, insufficient enrichment and a combination of poor condition of pens and high stocking density were associated with an increased number of antimicrobial treatments for musculoskeletal diseases per pig. Problems with stocking density and enrichment were associated with the number of antimicrobial treatments for tail biting, although these results depended on prevalence of joint infections. Problems with air quality and the combination of poor cleanliness and poor condition of facilities were associated with increased number of antimicrobial treatments due to respiratory diseases. This study suggests that by improving biosecurity and welfare at pig farms, antimicrobial use can be reduced.


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