CAIRNS proved to be an excellent venue for the meeting of the Australian Pig Veterinarians.
One hundred delegates comprising veterinarians in practice, industry and government, around 30 speakers and many other industry representatives met from July 31 to August 2. Veterinarians ranged from those retired but still with a very active interest in the industry – Dr John Holder from Sydney to Dr Andres Ardila who has just joined the pig team at Boehringer-Ingelheim.
The speaker travelling the least distance was producer Robyn Boundy from Mareeba. Dr Mandy Nevel from the UK would have travelled the greatest distance to attend. The Annual General Meeting of the APV saw some changes, with Dr Merideth Parke from EW Nutrition handing over the president’s role to Dr Susan Dawson of Portec/Apiam.
The other new member of the APV committee is Dr Yvette Pollock from Sunpork who joins Regina Fogarty, Anke Woeckel, Jon Bartsch and Merideth Parke who are staying on from the old committee. The committee are grateful for the sponsorship received from platinum sponsor APL, gold sponsors MSD, Zoetis and Boehringer-Ingelheim, silver sponsors Jefo, Kemin and Feedworks and bronze sponsors Biomin, ADM and Treidlia.
While the conference dinner at Dundee’s restaurant on the waterfront was an excellent social night and was well attended, the social highlight was definitely the poolside function on the opening night. The welcome drinks and BBQ were sponsored by Sunpork.
Just prior to dinner, and sponsored by International Animal Health, the Cairns Chinese Association put on an informative and cultural feast of Lion Dancing and celebrations for the Year of the Pig. The big and little lions and the very pregnant pig danced their way through the crowd to traditional drums and cymbals.
The lion a symbol of power, wisdom, and good fortune, chases away evil spirits and brings happiness, longevity, and good luck. The Chinese Association even left two of their blow pigs with us over the conference to bring good luck in this auspicious year. Next year the conference looks to be heading to Melbourne.
Scientific Program Highlights
With a major theme of antimicrobial stewardship, the program looked closely at AMS, antimicrobial resistance and alternative strategies to antimicrobials. For the second year in a row, Dr Mark Schipp, Australia’s chief veterinary officer attended the conference providing an update on AMS issues nationally and internationally.
Mareeba producer, Robyn Boundy spoke on the industry’s need to continue a proactive approach to the challenges it faces, including on AMS and AMR. Conference keynote speaker Dr Amanda Nevel gave a detailed assessment of the need for national pig industries to adopt measurement of antimicrobial use to allow informed discussion on the use of antimicrobials to support the health and welfare of production pigs.
Working in the UK slaughter levy funded Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board, Mandy detailed how the UK recording program was established and what has driven over 90 percent uptake by producers. Over 60 percent of the production sector had already committed to the electronic Medicines Book approach before the UK based Red Tractor QA program, driven by producers made it effectively compulsory.
With Red Tractor certification being required for most market buyers this drove a very high compliance rate. Mandy stressed that even though the UK pig industry had seen a dramatic drop in antibiotic use over the period from 2015 to 2018, she did not support antibiotic free production as a goal.
“We need to have antibiotics available to treat sick animals” Mandy said. Dr Ross Cutler, APL consultant leading AMS initiatives, said that “APL wants its members to be ahead of any AMS regulatory or market requirements”. Dr Sam Abraham from Murdoch University led a series of talks on antimicrobial resistance and announced that the industry will now have access to standardised reporting of the antimicrobial sensitivity of most of the major pig pathogens found in this country.
This will mean that for the first-time laboratory reports of antimicrobial sensitivity from across the country can be compared. Daniel Morison from ACE Laboratories and Joanne Mollinger from the Qld Government’s Biosecurity Services Laboratory both said they would be using the new Sensititre TM plates in the coming weeks.
Highly relevant to our tropical and subtropical industry, Dr Damien Paris from James Cook University spoke on his recent work that heat stress-induced, DNA damaged sperm from boars may contribute significantly to early embryo loss in sows. This damage was not seen though changes in sperm motility. He did find that an anti-oxidant therapy during summer appeared to significantly alleviate heat stress-induced DNA damage but not concentration nor motility in boar sperm.
Dr Deb Finlaison from the NSW government’s Elizabeth Macaurthur Agricultural Institute reported the first finding of an atypical porcine pestivirus as the cause of congenital tremors in pigs. While work back in the 1980s had demonstrated there was an infectious agent associated with this debilitating disease of Australian neonatal pigs, the exact cause had not been proven.
Following work in the USA and Europe identifying the viral agent, the EMAI research has now detected this virus in Australian pigs.
With African Swine Fever very much front of mind in the industry the program included four highly relevant talks. Dr Belinda Wright from Animal Health Australia spoke on the policy approaches to responding to an exotic disease incursion.
From a state government perspective, Dr Alison Crook, QLD Chief Veterinary Officer covered off on the state response strategies and her plans to conduct with industry a simulation exercise in QLD. Dr Jeremy Rogers from South Australia spoke on the findings from the recent “Exercize Rapid Strike” workshop that simulated aspects of an ASF incursion in SA.
He also described current work on pre-assessment of emergency movement permits for pigs travelling on regular routes in the event of an outbreak and a proposed piece of work at SABOR on testing of boars for exotic diseases. Dr John Carr gave an excellent update on where the disease is at globally, what we should be doing to prevent its spread and the challenges this disease presents.
Regina Fogarty, Rivalea