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AASV, the National Pork Board, and the National Pork Producers Council Support and Encourage Your Participation in the 2020 NAHMS Swine Study

Swine operations in 38 states will be contacted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) starting in June 2020 and asked to participate in a national level study. This study focuses on the health, health practices and biosecurity employed by swine producers in this country. These confidential national studies have been occurring every 5-8 years for 30 years. National estimates of this type have found use in trade negotiations and providing objective information to the swine industry, policymakers and researchers of all types.

Since 1990 the USDA's National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) has published national (population) estimates of the Nation's livestock, poultry, and farmed aquatic animals in cooperation with commodity industry representatives and producers. The term "population estimates" means that when NAHMS publishes a percent, an average or a ratio the estimates apply directly to the target population under study. What makes these estimates unique is that our target population often represents, in the case of swine studies, in excess of 90 percent of the operations and hogs on those operations (historically for operations with more than 100 hogs in the U.S.). In statistics, a population estimate used for a sample size calculation is very difficult to get.

NAHMS studies produce a national snapshot of the housing, biosecurity, health and health management of the given commodity industry. In most commodity studies, NAHMS works with the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) because of their comprehensive, frequently updated list of livestock producers. NASS pulls a sample for NAHMS and makes the first contact with the producers to collect data for the first survey instrument (which contains basic questions about housing, biosecurity and production). Producers that are willing to continue in the study are then interviewed a second time by a Veterinary Services (VS) representative. This second survey collects information on diseases present in the farms' pigs and the medications/vaccines the producer used to combat these diseases. Biologic collections (e.g., blood, feces) are often tested for a variety of pathogens in this second visit or at the producers' convenience.

The first national study NAHMS did was on swine in 1990. NAHMS conducted subsequent national studies on the more commercial side of swine production in 1995, 2000, 2006 and 2012 and on smaller operations (less than 100 hogs) in 2007 and 2012. Estimates from NAHMS swine studies have contributed information to the USDA and the swine industry in many ways. A few examples of the contributions are:

  • Data collected between 1990 and 2006 documented the decline and virtual elimination of trichinae in commercial market swine and showed a corresponding decrease in the use of production practices that contribute to trichinae infection. This information has been used in industry discussions with trading partners.

  • Estimates from NAHMS swine studies are used to develop the Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health (CEAH) National African Swine Fever and Classical Swine Fever disease spread models. These estimates form the basis of live animal movement parameters that influence the rate of disease spread. Outputs can be used to estimate resource needs in an outbreak.

  • During the initial U.S. outbreaks involving porcine epidemic eiarrhea (PED) and porcine deltacoronavirus (PDCoV) in 2013 and 2014, respectively, NAHMS assisted with the initial epidemiologic investigations. NAHMS also provided a support role in PED efforts by providing industry and academia with quick analytic turnaround of data they collected.

  • By using data from two NAHMS national swine studies, researchers were able to provide the swine industry with estimates of the cost of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) to the swine industry. This information gave the industry baseline data to use in efforts to regionalize and/or eradicate this costly disease.

  • NAHMS national swine studies have provided insight into the use of medications in feed and water since 1995. Use estimates help combat the spread of misinformation on antimicrobial use in the swine industry. It appears that the swine industry made changes in use well in advance of the VFD in 2017.Use estimates dropped from 1.3 million in 2006 to 0.7 million kilograms in 2012. How did they do this while maintaining health?

    Between 2006 and 2012 there appears to have been a shift away from "lower potency/higher dose" (like CSP) antimicrobials to "higher potency/lower dose" (like Carbadox) antimicrobials leading to less overall weight used. Some feed antimicrobials were given to pigs over a shorter duration between 2006 and 2012 which also could lead to less weight in overall use.

  • Fecal specimen samples collected from NAHMS national swine studies are examined to isolate bacteria considered to be animal and food-borne pathogens. Not only does NAHMS generate information on the prevalence of these pathogens on-farm, but assessments of antibiotic resistance profiles are also conducted. Twenty years of resistance data also combats misinformation about resistance. However, while these estimates are at national level, they are usually not population estimates.

The NAHMS Swine 2020 study will give the swine industry 30 years of national snapshots. There are two components to the study, a large and a small.

The large component will start with NASS starting the initial data collection in July 2020 with VS representatives going out after harvest in the Fall of 2020. The target population is U.S. swine operations with 1,000 or more pigs and approximately 2,700 operations will be selected from 13 of the Nation's top swine-producing States (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota). Free Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter and Enterococcus fecal cultures (from grower/finisher pigs) and antimicrobial susceptibility testing will be offered free to participating producers. In addition, oral (from grower/finisher pigs) fluid test results regarding the prevalence Senecavirus A (SVA) will be offered.

The small component will occur June-August 2020. The target population is U.S. swine operations with fewer than 1,000 pigs. NAHMS hopes to provide new information regarding animal health and management practices used on these operations, as well as the alternative marketing strategies that some farms implement (e.g., show pigs, organic). Approximately 5,000 swine operations from 38 States will be asked to participate in the study. These states account for about 95 percent of U.S. swine operations with fewer than 1,000 pigs. This component will be a mail out with telephone follow-up handled entirely by NASS.

The 2020 study components will provide the swine industry with:

  • Information about the US swine industry useful for trade negotiations.

  • Information about sourcing of pigs and feed for swine farms as well as destination types for swine leaving the farm. This is useful for foreign animal disease transmission modeling and resource planning for such an event.

  • Factual information about modern swine management and medication usage to help rebut claims by those hostile to livestock raising.

For more information contact Charles Haley at (970)-494-7216 or