With PROHEALTH in its third year, many exciting results are emerging from the scientific work-streams. Many of our project findings will be showcased at prominent European conferences, such as the International Pig Veterinary Society Congress (IPVS) in Dublin, the International Conference on Production Diseases in Farm Animals (ICPD) in Wageningen, NL, and the Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP) in Belfast, UK. A total of 26 abstracts for scientific presentations have been submitted by PROHEALTH members to these three events alone.
In addition, PROHEALTH will organise focused workshops and training sessions in several European countries to promote the translation of the scientific findings into industry and farm practice.
Piglet mortality is one of the main issues of concern for the pig industry. According to French technical reports, the average loss of piglets before weaning on French farms in 2014 was 20%. Crushing and stillbirths are considered as the most important causes of neonatal mortality. However further research is needed to develop better strategies for reducing piglet deaths by identifying the risk for each cause of mortality, and recognizing individual farm characteristics and their contribution to the problem.
In intensive poultry production systems good foot pad health is crucial to ensuring a high level of animal welfare and high production yields. Often foot pad health is seen to decline over the production period and may subsequently result in increased mortality due to septicaemic infections, or a decreased egg production due to pain and discomfort. The most frequently isolated bacteria from these infections are staphylococci and enterococci, which need a port of entry to enter the blood stream and cause disease of the host. PROHEALTH investigated the role of foot health in relation to development of disease caused by staphylococcus and enterococcus bacteria in broiler breeders.
Although it is understood that production diseases can be costly to poultry farms, the exact magnitude of these costs is not well quantified. To shed light on these costs, recent studies were reviewed. Many of these diseases occur persistently in poultry production and can become more severe in high intensity production systems and/or under poor management. These diseases incurred costs due to lost output and increased production costs, such as higher feed costs, but also costs of interventions to prevent or cure them. Some of these diseases were found to have a substantial negative impact on farms’ profit margins, in addition to impacts on bird health and welfare.