Pig farmers attitudes towards sick/injured pigs in relation to care and rehabilitation, the use of medication and euthanasia

Alessia, D., Snijders, S., Leonard, N. and Boyle, L. 2016. Pig farmers attitudes towards sick/injured pigs in relation to care and rehabilitation, the use of medication and euthanasia. Dwyer, C., Haskell, M. and Sandilands, V. (ed.) 50th Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology. Edinburgh, UK 12 - 15 Jul 2016 Wageningen Academic Publishers. doi:10.3920/978-90-8686-833-9

TitlePig farmers attitudes towards sick/injured pigs in relation to care and rehabilitation, the use of medication and euthanasia
AuthorsAlessia, D., Snijders, S., Leonard, N. and Boyle, L.
EditorsDwyer, C., Haskell, M. and Sandilands, V.
TypeConference poster
Abstract

Antibiotic (AB) resistance is a major concern worldwide. Knowledge about potential drivers of AB use and prescribing practices in the pig industry is required to address problems of mis and over use. We hypothesised that pig farmers attitudes towards the treatment and care of injured or sick pigs may influence their use of AB. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 30 producers who managed integrated pig units in Ireland and which supplied records to the Teagasc PigSys database. Ethical approval was obtained and pig producers were invited for interview by their Teagasc pig advisor. Consent was obtained at the time of the interview. Interviews with participants were recorded and transcribed using random numbers from 1 to 30, one per participant to ensure anonymity. Themes were then identified from the data. The importance of comfort and care in the rehabilitation of animals following injury was only expressed in relation to sows. Here the importance of straw bedding and a solid floor in
ensuring recuperation from lameness/injury was mentioned by several producers (n=7). The relevance of analgesics to recovery from illness or injury was only mentioned by 2 producers who used pain relief for sows that were ‘sick after farrowing’. Injectable ABs were the most common method of treating illness or injury (n=12), followed by euthanasia (n=7). The practice of euthanising pigs was driven by economic (n=6) or humane grounds (n=9). The latter also expressed the belief that it was more humane to euthanise than to hospitalise sick or injured pigs. However, there was a general dislike for the practice of euthanasia. Many producers mentioned that it is too expensive to call a vet to treat or to euthanise sick or injured pigs. Only one producer used a vet to euthanise pigs. Several producers did not agree with the use of hospital pens (n=7) either because they believed that pigs are usually abandoned/forgotten in such pens (n=2) or because hospital pens are places where diseases are harbored and recirculated through the herd. Almost half of the producers expressed the view that medications (in-feed and/or injections) were the only solution to deal with pig health problems and to ensure good welfare. A 3rd of producers believed that the only solution to serious diseases challenges was to de-stock the herd. Low profit margins and lack of awareness of the role which husbandry and the environment have to play in the prevention of diseases as well as the role which comfort and care of pigs play in the recovery process are major barriers to reducing the reliance on medication in the pig industry

KeywordsAntibiotics, farm practice, animal welfare
Year2016
Conference50th Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
JournalApplied Ethology
Book titleProceedings of the 50th Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology
ISBN9789086862870
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.3920/978-90-8686-833-9

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