Main content area

Benchmarking of pluck lesions at slaughter as a health monitoring tool for pigs slaughtered at 170kg (heavy pigs)

Scollo, Annalisa, Gottardo, Flaviana, Contiero, Barbara, Mazzoni, Claudio, Leneveu, Philippe, Edwards, Sandra A.
Preventive veterinary medicine 2017 v.144 pp. 20-28
abscess, autumn, body weight, commercial farms, data collection, epidemiological studies, herd health, herds, liver, lungs, meat inspection, monitoring, pleura, seasonal variation, slaughter, slaughterhouses, statistical analysis, swine, swine production, veterinarians, Italy
Abattoir post-mortem inspections offer a useful tool for the development and monitoring of animal health plans and a source of data for epidemiological investigation. The aim of the present work was to develop an abattoir benchmarking system which provides feedback on the prevalence and severity of lesions of the pluck (lung, pleura and liver) in batches of pigs to inform individual producers and their veterinarians of the occurrence of pathological conditions affecting their herds. The weekly collection of data throughout a year (from September 2014 to September 2015) supported the further aim of providing benchmark values for the prevalence of lesions and their seasonality in Italian heavy pig production. Finally, correlations and redundancies among different lesions were evaluated. In total, 727 batches of heavy pigs (around 165kg live weight and 9 months of age) derived from 272 intensive commercial farms located in Northern Italy were monitored. Within each batch, an average number of 100 plucks was individually scored, assigning a value for lesions of lungs (0–24), pleura (0–4) and liver (1–3). Presence of lung scars, abscesses, consolidations, lobular/chessboard pattern lesions and pleural sequestra was also recorded. Statistical analysis showed a strong farm effect (36–68% of variation depending of the lesion) and a seasonal effect on all lesions. Winter showed the lowest percentage of severe lung and pleural lesions (P<0.001 and P=0.005), whereas lung scars from older lesions (P=0.003), as well as severe hepatic lesions (P<0.001), were reduced in autumn. In order to allow effective benchmarking of each farm in a determined health class, scores for each quartile of the population are reported. Whilst such a benchmarking scheme provides useful data for herd health management, challenges of repeatability of scoring and cost of implementation need to be overcome.