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Virus imposes hefty costs on pig producers

April 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Livestock

Shocking figures show that pig virus PMWS, which is present on 99% of pig farms, costs producers as much as £84 per animal, according to a study aimed at combating endemic disease.

During epidemic periods, such as 2008, PMWS cost the pig industry £88m per year, according to the BBSRC-led initiative, conducted by researchers from the Royal Veterinary College during the past five years.

Researchers worked to understand the factors that lead to farms developing high rates of PMWS. The aim was to create models to work out the cost of the disease as well as the potential savings for farmers by tackling the virus in different ways.

Dirk Werling, who led the project, explains: “We’ve known for many years that this is a serious disease in pigs. It is now endemic globally and will haunt the pig industry for years to come. It is crucial that we understand the biological basis of the virus as well as the cost implications.”

Knowing the financial impact of the illness could help farmers decide how best to improve the welfare and profitability of their herds, said Prof Werling. The figures were shocking, but an important step in enabling farmers and the industry to look at feasible and sustainable intervention.

Depending on herd size, the cost of the most severe cases – where the infected pig died from PMWS – was an estimated £84 per animal. The cost was £8 where a pig was carrying the virus but displayed no clinical symptoms.

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