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Veterinary Herd Health Management in Ugandan smallholder pig farms

Gertzell, Elin


Animal health research often focus on single, specific diseases such as e.g. African swine fever. However, animal health usually depends on multiple factors. In the present thesis, the overall herd health and productivity in 20 smallholder pig farms were assessed by the use of veterinary herd health management, an iterative approach using both interviews, observations, clinical examinations and targeted sampling to obtain a holistic view on the herd. Further, certain problems were identified that likely affected many herds, and the presence of ecto- and endoparasites, parvoviral antibodies, and antibiotic resistance of Staphylococcus spp. and E. coli, were screened for in all herds. 

The main constraints to the production were identified as inadequate feeding, poor reproduction, poor biosecurity, and infectious diseases, although the problems varied considerably among the herds. Low quantity and quality of feed and water caused poor growth rates and poor health, and contributed to increased mortality rates. Suboptimal management was likely one of the main causes of the poor reproductive performance, but pathogens, inadequate nutrition, heat stress, low parity numbers, and inferior breeds probably also contributed to the poor results. Parasites were very common, and apart from pruritus, mainly caused by lice, endoparasites were the most commonly identified cause of clinical disease. In herds of all sizes, coccidia and nematodes caused diarrhea in suckling piglets and growing pigs, resulting in emaciation and even deaths. The two largest herds experienced post-weaning diarrhea associated with enterotoxigenic E. coli, resistant to tetracycline that was commonly used to treat the disease. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was found in a healthy pig in one herd. African swine fever was not diagnosed, but differential diagnoses such as Erysipelothrix infection were suspected. Despite the lack of vaccination programs, parvoviral antibodies were commonly found and parvovirus was thus suspected to be the cause of the high number of mummified fetuses in two herds, and possibly associated with the small litters in several herds. 

In conclusion, many different factors affect the health and productivity of smallholder pig herds in Uganda. Efforts to improve health and productivity need to take into consideration both the smallholder context and the situation of the individual herd, as the conditions and motivations differ from those in intensive farms in high-income countries.


ETEC; disease; growth; parasites; parvovirus; performance; productivity; reproduction

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ISBN: 978-91-576-9778-3, eISBN: 978-91-576-9779-0
Utgivare: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences

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