- Animals: swine
- Animal Production: animal protection and health, parasite control
Parasites are a pervasive problem on organically raised pig farms. Animal welfare is improved when pigs are raised with outdoor access, but this access increases the likelihood of parasite infection. Parasite infection can result in economic losses to farmers due to reduced weight gain and poor feed efficiency in growing stock as well as liver condemnation at slaughter. Little research has been done to describe the prevalence of parasites on these farms or to identify ways to organically control them. The proposed study would address these questions via a series of on-farm surveys in which fecal, bedding, and soil samples will be collected and analyzed for the presence of swine parasites. At least 10 pig farmers (in PA and NY) will be included in the study. Information on management practices like herd size, bedding used, housing style, and type of outdoor access will be collected from each participating farmer. Parasite prevalence on farms will be studied and the effects of management practices on parasite infection and prevalence will be evaluated. The results of this study will be disseminated to farmers, researchers, and consumers to help producers make better-informed management decisions for the health and productivity of their swineherd.
Project objectives from proposal:
The ultimate goal of this project is to develop management practices and technical guidelines for farmers for effective control of swine parasites in organic systems. The specific objectives are:
- Evaluate parasite prevalence and intensity on organic and pasture-raised pig farms by conducting a robust survey study (including 10 organic farms in the Northeast region primarily in PA and NY)
- Analyze the effects of management practices (i.e. bedding and housing used, access to pasture, acreage used for pigs, size of the herd, breeds used, etc.) on parasite infections
- Disseminate information to farmers and educate them on the best management practices for control and management of swine parasites on organic farms