Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

Health monitoring of fattening pigs : use of production data, farm characteristics and on-farm examination

Background

The use of processed secondary data for health monitoring of fattening pigs has been established in various areas, such as the use of antibiotics or in the context of meat inspection. Standardized scores were calculated based on several sources of production data and can be used to describe animal health in a large collective of pig units. In the present study, the extent to which these scores are related to different farm characteristics and management decisions were investigated. In addition, slaughter scores were compared with the results of a veterinary examination on the farms.

Results

The comparison of the results of the uni- and multifactorial analyses revealed that almost all of the examined factors play a role in at least one of the scores when considered individually. However, when various significant influencing factors were taken into account at any one time, most of the variables lost their statistical significance due to confounding effects. In particular, production data such as production costs or daily feed intake remained in the final models of the scores on mortality, average daily gain and external lesions. Regarding the second part of the investigation, a basic technical correlation between the slaughter scores and the on-farm indicators could be established via principal component analysis. The modelling of the slaughter scores by the on-farm indicators showed that the score on external lesions could be represented by equivalent variables recorded on the farm (e.g., lesions caused by tail or ear biting).

Conclusions

It has been demonstrated that the examined health scores are influenced by various farm and management characteristics. However, when several factors are taken into account, confounding occurs in some cases, which must be considered by consultants. Additionally, it was shown that on-farm examination content is related to the scores based on equivalent findings from slaughter pigs.

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