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Proof from the Field: Findings of data analysis show advantage of PCV2 vaccine

Article-Proof from the Field: Findings of data analysis show advantage of PCV2 vaccine

By Brad Thacker, D.V.M., Ph.D., MBA, senior technical services veterinarian, Merck Animal Health

Evaluating vaccination protocols in real-world situations is important to helping producers and veterinarians make decisions that will optimize the health of their pigs along with the profitability of their operations. It’s not often, though, that data from an independent operation involving nearly a half-million pigs can be obtained and analyzed to provide reliable performance and economic information. Such is the case involving a Midwest operation.

A Midwest operation put PCV2 vaccines to the test

The owner of a hog operation was managing two flows of pigs: a terminal flow that was sold for slaughter, and a maternal flow in which a large portion of gilts were sold as replacements. Both flows were given CircoFLEX, a one-dose PCV2 vaccine.

In response to concerns about viremia in the gilts, the producer and his veterinarian decided to switch the maternal flow to Circumvent PCV. After a period of time, the producer observed that not only did the viremia disappear, but also that pigs in the maternal flow were clearly outperforming the terminal flow with respect to mortality and cull pigs. To see if the performance of the terminal flow could be enhanced, he started using Fostera PCV instead of CircoFLEX, which allowed him to maintain the administration of a one-dose product.

Even with this change, the performance of the terminal flow still lagged behind the maternal flow. Based on the performance differences among the three vaccines, the producer switched his terminal flow to Circumvent PCV so that all pigs were receiving the same level of PCV2 protection.

The producer and his veterinarian reached out to me to talk about what was being observed on this operation. They clearly had seen the difference in performance, but wanted to understand how that equated to economic benefits. In addition, the impact of the genetic differences between the two flows needed to be considered in our analysis. This consideration was based on the owner’s observation that the performance differences between the flows were masked by genetic capability when Circumvent was only being used in the maternal flow. With the help of the producer, we completed a statistical and economic analysis of the operation’s production records.    

Circumvent outperforms competitors in all areas

The production record analysis showed that of the more than 450,000 pigs vaccinated during the course of three years, the Circumvent PCV-vaccinated pigs outperformed those given either CircoFLEX or Fostera PCV.1

“Consistency and reliability have been key developments since moving both the terminal and maternal flow of pigs to Circumvent,” says Art Sauder, president of Livestock Services, Inc. “Once we reviewed the statistical analysis conducted by Merck Animal Health, it was really evident that we were losing a lot of economic advantage by not vaccinating pigs with Circumvent PCV.”

Circumvent PCV-vaccinated pigs demonstrated a 3.4 percent decrease in FCR, needing 23 less pounds of feed per pig marketed.1 They also gained better than pigs vaccinated with other vaccines, demonstrating a 2.7 percent increase in ADG – which adds about 6.5 pounds per pig at marketing.1

Further, pigs vaccinated with Circumvent PCV were more likely to survive and sell for full value. Circumvent PCV-vaccinated pigs had 39 percent lower mortality and 44 percent fewer culls compared to the pigs given the other vaccines.1

“We feel that today we are capturing the advantages provided by Circumvent, and because pigs are healthier, we’re able to maximize their performance potential,” says Sauder.

The most profitable PCV2 vaccine

To show what these performance results meant from a profitability standpoint, a swine budgeting model was used to determine the economic differences between vaccines. Variable inputs included feed cost per ton, feeder pig price, carcass price and cull pig value – all were assigned respective prices and values.

In Merck Animal Health’s 2013 analysis, there was an economic difference of at least $6 between Circumvent PCV and the two competitor vaccines.2 Based on the data collected and analyzed to date, as well as 2014 variable costs, the updated economic difference was at least $5 in added profit per pig.

Baseline Values for Prices


2014 Prices

2013 Prices

Feed Cost per Ton



Feeder Pig Price



Carcass Price (CWT)



Cull Pig Value



Difference in Profit



The results of this analysis show just how economically important it is for producers to choose a PCV2 vaccine that keeps their pigs healthy and performing at optimum levels. It also shows the importance of continuous evaluation of vaccination protocols to help ensure animals are getting the best protection possible against diseases faced in real-world conditions.

  1. Thacker, B. and Creel, J. PCV2 vaccination update: Field experiences. 2015.
  2. Thacker, B., Blomme, R., Holtkamp, D. and Creel, J. Field comparison of PCV2 vaccines: A retrospective production data analysis. Proc. 45th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, Dallas, Texas. 2014. pp. 139-143.

Circumvent and Circumvent PCV are registered trademarks of Intervet International B.V., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc.
CircoFLEX is a registered trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH. 

Fostera is a registered trademark of Zoetis LLC.