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New Pump Simplifies Oral Vaccine Delivery

The administration of oral vaccines has always been relatively easy, but now a new pump delivery system is making that process even easier for hog producers.

The Vaccinator peristaltic pump from Stenner Pumps allows for a consistent release of vaccine solution into a barn’s water line over a set period of time. The pump is specifically designed to administer oral vaccines continuously for six hours, assuring vaccination accuracy while simplifying the process and minimizing wear and tear on the pump itself.

As hog producer Trisha Deppe Kuenzel of Deppe Farm, near Washington, MO, explains during a recent farm tour and demonstration, she no longer has to be there during the treatment process. Now she starts the process, generally goes back to check on it after about three hours, and then forgets about it until later that day — or even the next day when she rinses out the plastic gallon jug for future reuse.

Kuenzel says she used to have to watch the clock to make sure she was back in the barn about an hour before delivery concluded, so she could tilt the bucket to make sure the pigs got every last drop of the vaccine solution. Likewise, she had to be present to turn the system off when delivery was done.



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“It is a good process, a good idea and a good change,” says Kuenzel, who started using the new process several months ago. In addition to saving labor, swine veterinarian Steve Patterson, DVM, of Northeast Veterinary Service, Shelbina, MO, explains the new delivery technology eliminates the need to premeasure stock solution and helps assure vaccination accuracy.

Ileitis, associated with Lawsonia intracellularis, is a common diarrheal disease of grow-finish pigs. It can cause a sudden onset of diarrhea, with inflammation of the ileum in the small intestine and colon. Ileitis can affect pig performance, cause persistent diarrhea and result in mortality if not kept in check. Patterson explains that at Deppe Farm, the pigs are treated for ileitis at around eight weeks of age with Enterisol Ileitis, a Lawsonia intracellularis vaccine from Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. (BIVI).

The avirulent live-culture vaccine generally arrives at the 1,200-head sow farm the day prior to the planned vaccination. It is packed in dry ice, and upon arrival must be placed in a chest freezer: packaging, dry ice and all.

About 15 minutes before administration, the vaccine is removed from its packaging and run under cold water to thaw. The next step involves adding a reload pack, water and then the vaccine to a gallon jug. The reload pack neutralizes any chlorine in the water and turns it blue to allow for easy visual tracking of the solution throughout the delivery process. The final step is to attach the jug and turn the pump on. No further attention is needed.

As Patterson explained, a benefit of this particular pump system is that it is a totally automated process, with auto shutoff and auto flush. An added benefit is that the vaccination solution never touches the pump itself, which helps lengthen the lifetime of the pump. While BIVI recommends the Vaccinator peristaltic pump system for administration of Enterisol Ileitis, it does not sell the pump directly.

“We support a delivery system that promotes effective delivery while reducing errors and helping save time on the farm,” says Mike Steilen, BIVI oral vaccines brand manager. He explains that the company can get producers connected with a local distributor of Stenner pumps if they so desire. On average, the whole system runs less than $400.

Patterson encourages his clients to routinely vaccinate against ileitis and says the investment brings at least a threefold return. He says in addition to more uniform pig growth and size, most producers find that when they treat for ileitis, they have fewer cull pigs and overall mortality is reduced.

Just because there are no clinical signs of the disease, or because antibiotics are being given, doesn’t mean ileitis vaccination isn’t necessary, says Patterson. “There is enough data out there to show the benefits of the investment. Vaccinating for ileitis is a no-brainer,” he says, noting that the disease can be negatively influencing pig performance even when clinical signs are not visible. Care also should be taken when vaccinating pigs that are receiving feed medications. Prior to vaccination, feed medications should be withheld for three days. Another three-day withdrawal period is necessary following vaccination.    

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