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Author(s): Western Hog Journal - Dr. Don McDermid
Publication Date: July 14, 2011
Reference: Summer 2008


Producers know all too well how quickly disease can spread in a herd, not to mention the dramatic impact it can have on their profitability. Swine respiratory disease (SRD) is costly to North American producers in terms of productivity losses, medication and labour. Clearly, controlling disease is key to running a profitable operation. Producers can take control through good preventative health management practices and by incorporating new drug therapies, such as single dose anti-infectives, into their disease protocols.


Disease treatment – Why single dose therapies?


Water and feed medications are commonly used in hog operations and certainly have their place in the treatment cycle. However, when pigs are sick, they usually eat and drink less so it can be difficult to ensure each pig receives the correct amount of medication. 


Single dose therapies provide a better alternative in many cases. From a practical standpoint, when a complete treatment of anti-infective therapy is contained within a single dose, the animal gets all the medication it needs at once, saving you time and money. There is also the advantage of reduced stress on the animal. Why risk exacerbating an already sick and stressed animal by using a multiple-dose treatment when a single one is available?


By its very nature, single dose administration also ensures compliance, i.e. following veterinary recommendations. You could say that compliance is “built-in”. Not following a medication’s directions can create unnecessary problems. For example, when a sick pig begins to look better, producers may be inclined to stop treating the animal. This is an easy mistake to make, but the repercussions can be serious and may hinder the animal’s recovery and lead to relapse. Additionally, the development of antimicrobial resistance is a potential threat in under-dosed animals.


The moral of the story is that to make the most of anti-infective therapies and minimize the costs and impact of disease, it is vital to follow the correct dosage and recommended duration of therapy. These two success factors are easily achieved with a single dose product allowing you to focus on other management issues.


Disease prevention – herd health management protocols


Disease treatment will likely always be part of your routine; so should herd health management protocols. Why? Remember the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Adopting herd health management protocols can help to prevent disease from occurring in the first place and help producers and barn employees recognize the symptoms when disease does occur.


Producers can take certain steps to ensure their barn environment is as healthy as possible, minimizing the stress on animals. For example, barns should be constructed to maximize comfort including protection from drafts, moisture and variable temperatures. Animals should also have access to food and fresh, clean water at all times. Your veterinarian can provide other suggestions and assist you in developing a herd health program that’s right for your operation.


As effective as single dose therapies can be in treating and controlling the spread of disease, they only work to their full potential if a producer follows proper herd health management protocols. By doing both, you can help ensure the continued good health, performance and optimal profitability of your herd.



Dr. Don McDermid is Manager of Veterinary Services – Swine, at Pfizer Animal Health Canada





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