Keys to Preventing Porcine Respiratory Disease Complex (PRDC)

Written by: Anitra Blachan, M.S. - Form-A-Feed Nutrition and Production Specialist

In today’s commercial production facilities, biosecurity is essential for the improvement, maintenance and productivity of our farm animals. Disease outbreaks can have a tremendous negative impact by increasing mortality, increasing production costs, reducing productivity, and decreasing average daily gain which in turn affects the producers’ bottom line. One of the biggest contributors negatively affecting profitability is respiratory disease. 

According to the USDA/APHIS National Animal Health Monitoring System, respiratory disease is the leading cause of mortality in nursery and grower-finisher units. This is supported by the findings that only 2% of nursery pigs did not have respiratory disease in the last 12 months and 63% of pigs are being treated with antibiotics due to respiratory disease.  An astounding 64% of antibiotics used are solely for respiratory disease treatment. One of the biggest respiratory challenges that producers are faced with is Porcine Respiratory Disease Complex (PRDC).

What is PRDC?

Respiratory disease in pigs is rarely caused by one pathogen. Rather, during a respiratory challenge, a dangerous combination of primary and opportunistic infectious agents are affecting the pig simultaneously. In addition, adverse environmental and management conditions play a critical role in PRDC.

chart.jpgCommon primary viral contributors to PRDC are swine influenza and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS).  Pigs that are infected with these viruses then succumb to secondary infections (pneumonia and Glässers disease) making the respiratory challenge more severe.

High stress environments caused by overcrowding, inappropriate ventilation, and wide temperature fluctuations produce an additive negative effect on swine making them more susceptible to those agents involved in PRDC.

Severity and symptoms of PRDC can vary depending on the types and numbers of pathogens causing illness along with the age of animal.  Common symptoms include nasal or eye discharge, coughing, labored breathing, fever, anorexia and lethargy.

Prevention and Treatment

Since PRDC is caused by a variety of factors, treatment and prevention is multi-factorial and will vary depending on the case.

Key Factors in Prevention:

  • Implement and follow a strict biosecurity policy.
  • Ensure a well-designed and operating ventilation system.
  • Avoid mixing and moving of pigs unless it is necessary.
  • Monitor temperature and avoid large fluctuations.
  • Ensure optimal stocking density.
  • Have an appropriate vaccination program in place reviewed by your veterinarian.

Antibiotics are a viable treatment for the bacterial component of PRDC, but there are limited options to treat the viral components.  An appropriate vaccination program based upon each unit’s specific risks can be utilized to prevent these viral pathogens.

When treating pigs with PRDC, early intervention is the key to minimizing financial loss.  Form-A-Feed has a new economical and effective tool to treat the symptoms of respiratory disease challenges called Respire.  Respire is a water-dispersible blend of essential oils specifically designed to alleviate the symptoms of respiratory disease, especially in cases which cannot be treated with antibiotics. While Respire will not treat the disease directly, it aids in the recovery process through immune system stimulation and via its mucolytic and expectorant properties. This leads to improved feed and water intake, a shortened recovery period, and a rapid return to optimal performance.

Contact your Form-A-Feed representative for more information on Respire and how it can best be applied to your unique production system.