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Improving efficiency in a German Lawsonia positive fattening unit

(Summarised from an article by DVM Winfried Kriegler printed in Veterinrpraxis, Germany 2011)

During fattening, ileitis often runs an asymptomatic course without any diarrhea, but this results in poorer daily weight gain.

Key Points
l Ileitis is widespread in Germany a 2004 serology study found over 80% of herds were positive for Lawsonia intracellularis (L.i) l The subclinical form of the disease, is asymptomatic and can go undetected leading to significant losses in production due to lower average daily weight gain (ADG) and reduced feed conversion rate (FCR) l Economic damage can be prevented using a strategic medication protocol, as demonstrated by 2011 trial results from a German fattening unit l In this trial treatment with Denagard delivered significantly better results for ADG, FCR and batch homogeneity when compared to tylosin treatment and the untreated control

second with tylosin (6 mg/kg bw) by the same route and the third group remained untreated (control) 160 animals per group were weighed individually at four different stages of the fattening period The results of the growth and the daily gains were calculated by means of a statistical program (refer to Table 1)

Table 1. Weight gain in 88 fattening days*

Parameter Total growth (kg) Daily gains (g) FCR Tiamulin group 87.1 893 2.57 Tylosin group 85.6 876 2.72 untreated group 84.2 865 2.82

*depending on the treatment strategy. The feed conversion rate (FCR) was measured on day 101 of fattening. On this day, the first animals were sent for slaughter.

The tiamulin group showed by far the best performance data for total growth, ADG, and FCR. Conversely, the untreated control group showed the lowest weight gains and the poorest feed conversion rates The tiamulin treated group also produced the most homogeneous fattening with only 6% below 100kg after 98 fattening days as compared to 13% for the tylosin group and 16% for the untreated control (refer Figure 2)

Figure 2: Distribution of weights on day 88 of fattening


120 Weight (kg) 100


The Kcher & Meuser fattening unit in Berenbrock, Germany tested positive for L.i without any symptoms (diarrhea) being observed The facility is well managed with a very high health status and good biosecurity practices The ADG of around 800g in pigs of Danish origin was not, however, optimal Blood samples from various age groups were tested for L.i antibodies enabling the course of the disease within the unit to be determined over time (refer Figure 1) 12 week-old pigs introduced to the herd tested seropositive for L.i and, as the development of antibodies starts about three weeks after exposure, the infection probably took place towards the end of the flatdeck phase The timing of infection is not unusual as maternal antibodies are declining and other stresses such as regrouping into new pens, transportation and feed changes have a negative impact on the immune system predisposing young pigs to infection

Figure 1: Course of ileitis infection over time*


Tiamulin group

Tylosin group

Control group

= animals that weighed less than 100 kg on day 98 of fattening

100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 12 wk 15 wk 20 wk 26 wk

Blood questionable Blood positive Blood negative

Table 2. Correct treatment strategy pays off

Parameter Fattening period at 90 kg LW gain* (days) Average DFCP per place per day** Lost DFCP per place (a) Feed consumption at 90 kg LW-gain (kg) Difference in feed consumption (kg) Assumed price of feed (a/kg) Difference in feed costs per pig (a) Tiamulin group 100.8 0.25 0.00 231.3 0.0 0.20 0.00 Tylosin group 102.7 0.25 0.49 244.8 13.5 0.20 2.70 untreated group 104.0 0.25 0.82 253.8 22.5 0.20 4.50

Percent of animals for Lawsonia antibodies of untreated animals of different age groups

* Blood test for Lawsonia antibodies of untreated animals of different age groups in the Kcher & Meuser facility (wk = age in weeks)

As a result of the serology findings the producer decided to treat the fattening pigs with an antibiotic for three weeks immediately after a brief acclimatization phase of four days The intention was to protect the pigs against intestinal damage at the same time as giving the herd enough time to develop its own native immunity to carry them through to the end of the fattening period

It was decided to compare the efficacy of tiamulin (Denagard) with tylosin - two of the very few treatments to which L.i is sensitive 1500 animals were randomly divided into three groups of 500 pigs All three groups received the same ration of feed, were placed in pens on the same date, and treated at the same intervals for three weeks One group was treated, via the liquid feed, with tiamulin (6 mg/kg bw), a

*L/W gain = live weight gain. **DFCP = direct-cost-free performance in euros

Assessing the relative treatment value

The economic value of the treatments is shown in the Table 2 calculated on the basis of direct-cost-free performance (DCFP). For this, the fattening time needed in days for an increase of 90kg was calculated based on the different daily weight gain results.

Compared with the tiamulin group, the fattening time was two days longer for the tylosin group and three days for the control group. This represents a loss of 0.49 per fattener of the tylosin treated group and 0.82 euros per fattener for the untreated group

The improved feed conversion rate also had a correspondingly beneficial effect on the feed costs per pig. With an assumed total growth of 90 kg, the feed saved per pig in the tiamulin group was 13.5 kg compared with the tylosin group and 22.5 kg compared with the untreated animals This means that the tiamulin treatment delivered feed savings of 4.50 per pig compared to the control group and 2.90 compared to the tylosin group

These cost savings were calculated at the time of this study and, in view of the current rises in feed prices, are likely to be even higher in the future

for lower feed consumption than tylosin and could prove to be an important tool to help producers contain costs in face of rising prices of grain.

The experiences in the Kcher & Meuser unit show that the strategic use of an antibiotic one to two weeks after contact with Lawsonia intracellularis is beneficial to production performance. Denagard delivered better weight gains

Key Benefits
l Denagard treatment improves ADG in ileitis affected pigs by up to 28g/day, compared to untreated animals, and by 17g/day compared to tylosin treated pigs l On average Denagard treated pigs took 3 days less to reach 100kg than the untreated animals, and 2 days less than the tylosin treated pigs a saving of 0.82 and 0.49 per fattening place respectively l The improved ADG and FCR performance of Denagard treated pigs resulted in a significantly more homogeneous batch after 98 days of fattening only 6% under 100kg compared to 13% for the Tylan group and 16% for the untreated pigs l The Denagard treated pigs had a better FCR performance, meaning that the tylosin treated pigs consumed 13.5kg more and the untreated animals 22.5kg more than the Denagard pigs l This means that the Denagard treatment saved, on feed costs, 4.50 per pig more feed than the control group and 2.90 more than the tylosin treated group l Strategic treatment with Denagard around 4 days after introduction to the fattening unit delivers significant productivity and profitability improvements in ileitis affected pigs

Denagard is a registered trademark of Novartis AG, Basel, Switzerland. 2011 Novartis Animal Health Inc.