Update: OAHN swine small herd postmortem project

Josepha DeLay, Tim Pasma

Animal Health Laboratory, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON (DeLay);

Veterinary Science Unit, Animal Health and Welfare Branch, OMAFRA, Guelph, ON (Pasma) 

AHL Newsletter 2021;25(3):16.

The Ontario Animal Health Network (OAHN) swine small herd project has been in place since May 2020 due to the minimal documented information available about small swine herds in this province.  The goals of this project are threefold:

1. identify disease problems in small-scale swine herds in Ontario;

2. establish communications between small scale producers, vets, and OAHN;

3. increase awareness of zoonotic diseases and FADs among small scale producers.

The postmortem project provides free laboratory testing and free or subsized postmortems for small swine herds in Ontario which meet the following criteria:

  • herd size is ≤ 50 sows, or ≤1000 hogs marketed / year
  • herd has a Premises Identification Number (PID)
  • vet enrolls the herd and case in the project and follows appropriate sampling protocols
  • producer submits a completed herd management survey

Postmortems may be done at the Animal Health Laboratory (Guelph or Kemptville).  Alternatively, the herd vet may conduct field postmortems for which a stipend is provided by the project.  All test results are released directly to the herd vet.

To date, 21 cases have been submitted to the project, originating from 16 herds and 9 veterinary clinics.  The majority of submissions have been Kunekune pigs (10 cases), followed by commercial breeds (9 cases), minipig (1 case), and wild boar (1 case). 

A range of disease conditions have been diagnosed in submitted pigs (Table 1).  Many of these diseases are common in larger swine operations; however, other conditions are less common in commercial herds. Testing for PRRSV and influenza A virus (IAV) is carried out on all submissions: PRRSV has been detected in only 1/21 herds, whereas IAV has not been identified in any of the pigs.  Collated information from producer surveys will be released at the conclusion of the project.

The AHL continues to accept submissions to the small herd postmortem project.  To enroll a case in the project, please contact Dr. Josepha DeLay, AHL at 519-824-4120 ext. 54576 or jdelay@uoguelph.ca

More information about the project is located on the AHL website: https://www.uoguelph.ca/ahl/oahn-swine-small-scale-herd-postmortem-project-may-2020AHL

Table 1. OAHN swine small scale herd postmortem diagnoses, May 2020-August 2021.

Septicemia (S. suis) - 1

Atrophic enteritis (rotavirus) - 2

Pneumonia (M. hyopneumoniae, S. suis, and / or PRRSV) - 3

GI parasitism (whipworms, roundworms) - 2

Parasitic pneumonia (Ascaris suum) - 2

Non-suppurative encephalomyelitis (idiopathic) - 3

Mulberry heart disease, hepatosis dietetica – selenium deficiency - 1

Endometritis (S. suis) - 1

Acute idiopathic myonecrosis - 1

Salt toxicity /water deprivation - 1

PCVAD, with cerebral vasculitis - 3

Congenital cardiac anomalies - 2

Idiopathic abortion - 1

Polyserositis - 2

Excellent resources for small scale producers and veterinarians: