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Pig producers are being encouraged to reach out to their vets to perform free diagnostics if they are concerned about post-weaning diarrhoea (PWD). Elanco is... Free test helps tackle cause of post-weaning diarrhoea

Pig producers are being encouraged to reach out to their vets to perform free diagnostics if they are concerned about post-weaning diarrhoea (PWD).

Elanco is funding veterinary testing for the F4 and F18 strains of E.coli – both of which are a common causes of PWD and have shown to be present on 78% of farms, says strategic account manager Gillian Bryson.

Historically, PWD was kept at bay by zinc oxide, which has been banned. But its use also masked a multitude of potential issues which are now becoming more evident – highlighting the importance of understanding the root of the problem.

Rainbow kits

Producers can access fully funded diagnostic tests, such as rainbow kits and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, free of charge through their vet – giving an instant result and will confirm whether the herd is suffering from E. coli.

“PCR tests don’t provide immediate results, but offer more detail, including identifying whether F4 and F18 strains are present on farm, even if E. coli is not directly affecting the herd” says Ms Bryson.

“This is important because once these strains of E.coli are present, it is near on impossible to get rid of them, so preventative measures must be implemented to protect herds.”

Ms Bryson recommends producers work closely with their vets to put together a robust health management programme including the use of a vaccine to ensure effective protection against the most common strains of E. coli.

Early protection

Only one vaccine on the market offers herds effective protection against F4 and F18 strains of E.coli, says Ms Bryson. Piglets can be vaccinated from 18 days old with full immunity after seven days, providing early protection against the disease.

Piglets vaccinated with Coliprotec have shown increases in appetite resulting in slaughter weight gains of up to 2kg, while also reaching market weights seven days earlier.

“If you have any concerns about PWD or E. coli, get in contact with your local vet to discuss how diagnostics can support the overall health of your herd,” Ms Bryson concludes.

Small poultry keepers must register bird flocks

New measures to better protect the poultry sector from avian influenza outbreaks have been set out by the government.

Under the changes, all bird keepers  – regardless of flock size – will be required to officially register their birds. Currently this only applies to flocks of 50 birds or bigger, limiting the effectiveness of disease control measures.

By registering their birds, Defra says keepers will ensure they receive important updates relevant to them, such as on any local avian disease outbreaks and information on biosecurity rules to help protect their flocks.

Control zones

This will help to manage potential disease outbreaks, such as avian influenza and Newcastle disease, and limit any spread. Information on the register will also be used to identify all bird keepers in disease control zones.

Defra says this will allow for more effective surveillance, so zones can be lifted at the earliest possible opportunity and trade can resume more quickly following an outbreak of avian disease in Great Britain.

The changes come following the UK’s worst ever outbreak of avian influenza, with more than 360 cases across Great Britain since late October 2021, including in a significant number of backyard flocks.

UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “These new rules will enable us to have a full picture of the number and location of birds kept across Great Britain, making it easier to track and manage the spread of avian disease.

“This information will be vital in helping to inform future risk assessments and maintain our commitment to continually building our extensive avian influenza research portfolio.”