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Animal Science, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, Economics

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Translational Animal Science





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Understanding how disease affects commercial production is imperative for pig producers to quantify its full impact on pig performance, carcass quality, and net returns. The objective of this experiment was to assess the productivity and economic importance of naturally occurring health challenges (HC) under commercial conditions. Three 1,000 pig grow-finish facilities received 936 pigs each. The experimental period started approximately 34 d post placement at an average start BW of 13.1 ± 0.2 kg. Barns were characterized based on the relative HC, determined by diagnostic assessments as the main characterization tool, along with other health indicators. Barns were characterized as low challenge health (LCh), moderate challenge health (MCh), and high challenge health (HCh). All barns tested positive for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus infection prior to the start of the experiment. Additionally, the MCh and HCh barns experienced influenza type A virus of swine. Similar to commercial production conditions, the disease challenge was not imposed but rather occurred naturally. Reduced ADG, ADFI, and G:F were observed with an increased HC (P < 0.001). Similarly, mortality was increased when the HC increased (P < 0.001). Decreased ADG increased days to achieve harvest BW, by 10 and 15 d in the MCh and HCh treatments compared with LCh, respectively (P< 0.001). No differences were observed for percent lean, loin depth, or fat depth (P > 0.10). The economic impact of the HC was assessed by applying these growth performance data to two economic models encompassing the two main marketing methods used by U.S. pig producers: fixed-weight and fixed-time. Financial losses attributed to the variation in disease severity that occurred in the present study ranged from $8.49 and $26.10 U.S. dollars (USD)/pig marketed using a fixed-market weight model, or between $11.02 and $29.82 USD/pig using a fixed-time model, depending on feed costs and market hog prices. In conclusion, increasing severity of HC under commercial conditions reduced ADG by 8% and 14% and resulted in mortality as high as 19.9%. Losses of $8.49 to $29.82/pig marketed underscore the potential magnitude of the economic impact of mixed etiology concurrent diseases in pork production.


This article is published as Cornelison, A. S., L. A. Karriker, N. H. Williams, B. J. Haberl, K. J. Stalder, L. L. Schulz, and J. F. Patience. "Impact of health challenges on pig growth performance, carcass characteristics, and net returns under commercial conditions." Translational Animal Science 2, no. 1 (2018): 50-61. doi: 10.1093/tas/txx005.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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