For the last three USDA Quarterly Hogs and Pigs reports, the average pigs saved per litter figure has reached fresh new highs. A documented number illustrating U.S. hog farmers are making progress in the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus battle. During a press conference hosted by the National Pork Board, Chris Hurt, Purdue University ag economist, called it a “victory over PEDV and a very strong recovery”.
Eighth generation Ohio farmer Sam Wildman asks online “Is it truly going to be a victory over PEDV?” A very fair question considering the cold months - a peak time for PEDV to rear its ugly head - are approaching fast.
The fact remains that PEDV is a real battle on U.S. hog farms today. Some farms have been fortunate to escape the virus completely while others have won the battle but not the war. Since the disease can cost an operation dearly and spread quickly, it is reasonable that the U.S. hog farmers are not so quick to raise the “victory” flag.
The figure below shows the PEDV progression in the United States by the week through Sept. 22. Although the PEDV cases have diminished dramatically since its peak in the winter of 2014, a spike in reported positives only reaffirms hog farmers’ uneasiness over the virus.
At the Carthage Veterinary Service’s annual swine health and production conference, president and DVM Joseph Connor challenged hog farmers to eliminate PEDV from North America in 2016 based on the lesson learned and information gathered. A goal every hog farmer wants to achieve.
Connor is correct that the elimination of PEDV starts with the hog farmer in the trenches. One strategy proposed by Connor was to stop the practice of natural live virus exposure to build immunity, after this winter, because it proposes a risk and a vehicle for transmission.
The health of the animals is always on the minds of its caretakers. Still, preventing this highly transmittable virus from spreading will continue to take an army. It will also require utilizing the latest technology available and evolving practices based on scientific data to enhance hog farmers’ disease-fighting powers to eventually eradicate PEDV.
It is wise for U.S. hog farmers not to prematurely claim a triumph over PEDV. However, noting small wins can sure help the mindset and the productivity of a team. For now, it is safe to say the only group that gets to raise the final checker flag over PEDV is the U.S. hog farmers.