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Open Access Research article

Investigation of strategies for the introduction and transportation of replacement gilts on southern Ontario sow farms

Kate Bottoms1*, Zvonimir Poljak1, Cate Dewey1, Rob Deardon2, Derald Holtkamp3 and Robert Friendship1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

2 Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

3 Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Iowa, USA

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BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:217  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-217

Published: 9 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is of major concern to the swine industry; infection with the virus can lead to production losses, morbidity, and mortality within swine operations. Biosecurity practices related to the management of replacement animals are important for the prevention and control of the PRRS virus, as well as other diseases. The objectives of this study were: (i) to describe individual biosecurity practices related to the introduction and transportation of replacement gilts on southern Ontario sow farms, and (ii) to understand patterns in the implementation of these practices. The second objective was accomplished using multiple correspondence analysis (MCA), which allows visualization of the relationships between individual practices and provides information about which practices frequently occur together, and which practices rarely occur together. These patterns constitute strategies for the implementation of biosecurity practices related to the introduction and transportation of replacement gilts. Data were collected using version 2 of the Production Animal Disease Risk Assessment Program’s survey for the breeding herd. Two subsets of variables were retained for analysis; one subset pertained to how replacements were managed upon arrival to the farm, and the other pertained to the transportation of genetic animals.

Results

For both subsets of variables, the results of the MCA procedure were similar; in both solutions the 1st dimension separated herds that were closed with respect to replacement animals from herds that were open, and the 2nd dimension described how open herds managed replacements. The most interesting finding of this study was that, in some cases where a risky practice was being implemented, it was closely associated with other biosecurity practices that may mitigate that risk.

Conclusions

The findings from this approach suggest that one cannot always examine biosecurity on a variable-by-variable basis. Even if a practice that is generally considered high-risk is being implemented, it may be balanced by other practices that mitigate that risk. Thus, the overall biosecurity strategy on a farm must be considered instead of only examining the implementation of individual practices.

Keywords:
Swine; Biosecurity; Gilt replacement strategies; Multiple correspondence analysis