OAHN swine small-scale herd postmortem project is underway

Josepha DeLay, Tim Pasma DVM, MSc, MBA 

Animal Health Laboratory, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON (DeLay); Veterinary Science Unit, Animal Health and Welfare Branch, OMAFRA (Pasma)  


AHL Newsletter 2020;24(2):9. 
The Ontario Animal Health Network (OAHN) has funded a new study at the Animal Health Laboratory (AHL) to identify disease issues in small-scale swine herds in Ontario. Through this work, we hope to also establish and expand connections with small-scale swine producers in the province. The study will build on previous OAHN projects for disease surveillance in poultry small flocks and small ruminant herds, both of which provided a wealth of practical information for producers and veterinarians.  

Half of the world’s pig population is raised in small-scale herd settings (Dietze et al, 2011), and similar herds also exist in Canada and Ontario. Small-scale swine production has been researched in other countries, but to date, there are no known studies of this subset of swine herds in Ontario.  

The goals of the project are to: 

  • identify disease problems in Ontario small-scale swine herds; 

  • establish and maintain communications among small-scale swine producers, veterinarians and OAHN; 

  • increase awareness of zoonotic and foreign animal diseases among small-scale swine producers.  

For this project, a small-scale herd is defined as having ≤50 sows OR marketing ≤1000 hogs per year. Enrollment in the project and sample collection for testing must be done through the herd veterinarian who subsequently submits samples to the AHL.  Disease surveillance will be accomplished through subsidized postmortem examinations on pigs from participating herds. For individual cases, postmortems may be conducted either at the AHL or on-farm by the herd veterinarian. Laboratory tests on samples from postmortem exams will be done at the AHL and will also be subsidized. Pigs will be tested for a variety of diseases depending on the presenting complaint and the age of the animal. All animals will be tested for PRRSV and influenza A virus. Test results will be reported to the herd veterinarian, who will communicate these findings to the producer. 

Completion by the producer of a short, user-friendly survey on herd management will be required in order to qualify for subsidized testing. A premises identification number (PID) is also required to participate. Findings from the project will be made available to industry stakeholders in the winter of 2020-2021. 

Summary of requirements for postmortem (PM) case enrollment in the project and qualification for PM and testing subsidies:   

  •  swine herd is located in Ontario and has ≤50 sows or ≤1000 hogs marketed per year; 

  • herd has a Premises Identification Number (PID);  

  • producer completes and submits the herd management survey; 

  • veterinarian has enrolled the case in the program (contact jdelay@uoguelph.ca  or 519-824-4120 ext 54576); 

  • animals are submit ted to AHL for postmortem OR on-farm postmortem  is conducted by the veterinarian, with full completion of the appropriate submission form, strict adherence to sampling requirements, and carcass / sample submission to the AHL. 

For more information and to enroll a small herd in the project, veterinarians may contact Dr. Josepha DeLay at the AHL (jdelay@uoguelph.ca or 519-824-4120 ext 54576).   AHL  
Dietze K, Beltran-Alcrudo D, Pinto J et al. Factors affecting emergence of diseases in swine. Proc 22nd IPVS Cong 2012:11-15.