Vaccinating Baby Pigs and Remembering What is Really Important

Summer temperatures are heating up and there is the feeling of anticipation in the air as breeders in the southwest prepare to farrow their first litters of the season.  We all get excited about finally seeing those first babies but we need to make sure that we are prepared for their arrival.  Having a good vaccination program in place will help ensure that those babies are healthy and will be healthy for their new owners. 

As breeders we need to remember what this whole thing is about – KIDS.  We want those kids to purchase a healthy animal that will stay healthy through the feeding period.  We want kids to have a positive experience.   For many kids this project will be their first exposure to agriculture while others will be on a tight budget and not have extra money for costly medications when their project gets sick. 

York babies on a sow

Why You Should Have a Strong Vaccination Program

The implementation of the Veterinary Feed Directive has impacted numerous Ag teachers, county agents, parents and kids as they struggle to keep livestock projects healthy without the help of antibiotics in feeds. Today feed grade and many water soluble antibiotics that were once sold over the counter now require a prescription.  A good vaccination program for your baby pigs will help produce immunity against diseases thus can help reduce the number of shots that will need to be given to sick animals. 

One of the most frequent questions that we get asked this time of year is “what do you vaccinate your baby pigs with?”  You should work with your veterinarian to develop a vaccination program based upon your needs.  You need to build a relationship with your veterinarian for many reasons.  One reason is that your veterinarian can help you develop a baby pig vaccination program that addresses your needs, saves you money in the long run and minimizes the number of shots that you have to give. 

Vaccination protocols for baby pigs will vary from farm to farm depending upon what diseases are seen on the farm as well as what problems neighboring farms may have.  We vaccinate specifically for problems that we see in our pigs as well as diseases seen in the commercial units located within 5 miles of our farm.  Since we share the same highways there is always a possibility of transfer of organisms on vehicle tires so we try to stay proactive against potential disease problems. Most producers do not live that close to a commercial unit therefore they may not need to vaccinate against the same organisms that we do. 

Vaccines for vaccinating baby pigs

Protocols for Vaccinating Baby Pigs

A good starting place is to reference an article that was run in the August 2016 Producer Connection Magazine published by the Texas Pork Producers.  The article titled “Keeping Your Show Pig Healthy…Without Antibiotics” discusses the most prevalent causes of diseases in show pigs and gives some great recommendations of vaccinating against them. 

The article includes schedules for vaccinating baby pigs from 3 veterinarians who regularly deal with show pig producers.  These vaccination protocols are listed below. This is a place to start but it is best to work with your veterinarian to develop a vaccination program that fits your needs and farm.

The cover of Producer Connection Magazine containing Baby Pig Vaccination protocols
Dr Tripp Baby Pig Vaccination Protocol
Dr Logue Baby Pig Vaccination Protocol
Dr Gleason Baby Pig Vaccination Protocol

When pigs are vaccinated by us as producers and then revaccinated by their new owners many disease outbreaks can be eliminated.  Lets all do our part to help ensure that the kids that buy these projects have healthy animals and a great experience.