To grow uniform hogs, producers first need to ensure their hogs are healthy. Find out how diagnostic testing helps identify disease threats and head off potential performance losses.

Meeting world demand for pork requires disease prevention
<p>Diagnostic labs, like Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc.&rsquo;s Health Management Center in Ames, Iowa, can help farmers quickly identify pathogens to help contain disease outbreaks.</p>

Being a hog producer has both its challenges and rewards. While every producer has a different vision of success, all of those visions and goals depend on one thing: cash flow. No matter what you want out of the operation, being consistently in the red means moving further away from that goal, not toward it. 

While money may not define the success of your operation, money and success tend to have a lot in common. In order to be successful, it is important to understand the larger economic picture of the pork industry, particularly global demand. According to Dennis DiPietre, a world class economist, current demand for pork is influenced by three connected, but separate, forces.

1. The population of the world is growing, and increasing the demand for protein.

2. There is more demand for animals raised according to special standards.

3. As consumers speak up for different products and more information on where their food is coming from, policy is being put in place to restrict specific growing practices.

In order to meet and address these forces of change, farmers must adjust to keep their operations relevant and profitable. The best way to do that, according to DiPietre, is producing more uniform food. In his article, Prevention: The Economic Foundation of Precision Pork Production, DiPietre writes, “There is inherent variability present in all biological production processes. In commercial agriculture however, variation in growth rates of animals in a group can cause significant negative consequences to profitability.”

To grow uniform hogs, producers need to grow healthy hogs. Disease causes disruptions in feed conversion, lower rate of gain and overall performance. The key to preventing diseases from breaking on your operation is to develop a strong health management and vaccination program. If you do suspect disease, diagnostic testing will help to quickly identify the pathogens, and contain the outbreak.

Diagnostic tests are important component to adding consistency to your entire operation. Wayne Chittick, manager of the Health Management Center Diagnostic Laboratory, recommends using diagnostic tests as part of the overall health management protocol. “Pigs in a population are exposed and go through disease as a herd, just like a large family will share the sickness of their youngest child,” Chittick says. “Diagnostics need to be used at a herd-level to increase the likelihood of accurately detecting the current status of disease.” 

Diagnostic labs, like the Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. Health Management Center in Ames, Iowa, can help identify pathogens causing disease in herds through a variety of diagnostic tests. Testing results for the majority of PCR tests are available, within the same working day that the lab receives the testing sample. The lab can quickly and accurately identify pathogens affecting your pigs, heading off potential performance losses. 

HMC is a unique resource for the swine industry. Comprised of two teams — the ISO 17025 accredited diagnostic laboratory and the field research services group — HMC offers both on-farm support and diagnostic testing. “There is no other group with the combined expertise to respond to the field research needs our clients have, while at the same time offering products to use in an intervention,” says Chittick.

This multi-faceted approach to herd health is part of the Start Healthy End Strong initiative that BIVI embraces in all their work within the swine industry. BIVI partners with producers to give them a multitude of tools that allows them to achieve total herd health with the assistance of trusted BIVI professionals. Kate Christmas, DVM, director of swine professional services, knows the importance of this partnership for both BI and swine producers.

“We encourage swine producers and veterinarians to utilize all our services — not only our products but our people, our resources and our programs. It’s the partnership that matters to us, and ultimately our goal is to help our customers raise healthy, uniform pigs,” Christmas says.

For more information on the Health Management Center, visit, or contact your local BIVI representative.

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