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2020 NAHMS Swine Study: Why Should You Respond?

No one wants to think about what would happen if an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) would take place in the U.S. Fortunately, in addition to experts working to keep it out, many experts are working in the background developing plans for what would happen if it does. [Source: AgWeb 2 April 2020 by Jennifer Shike]

One group of experts - the USDA's National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) - is getting ready to conduct its next swine study in an effort to obtain a more accurate picture of the U.S. swine herd. If a foreign animal disease outbreak were to occur, the survey results would allow for more accurate federal and state resource planning.

Since 1990, NAHMS has conducted studies on swine production in the U.S. approximately every five years. Swine were the first livestock commodity to be studied in 1990 because of the industry's need for a national snapshot of U.S. swine health, says Charles Haley, swine study lead for NAHMS.

"Study questions are designed to produce national estimates on business demographics (e.g., number of production sites per operation), site demographics (e.g., growing pig barns per site), housing types and farm inputs and outputs (e.g., where feed and pigs come from and where pigs go)," Haley says. "Other study questions, such as those that ask about medications used by swine farmers to contribute to the wellbeing of pigs, produce national estimates that rebut claims of misuse of medications made by groups that are hostile to livestock agriculture."

In short, the information obtained for these studies provides stakeholders in the private and public sectors with valuable information on disease prevalence, management practices, productivity and disease preparedness strategies.

Between July 2020 and January 2021, NAHMS, in collaboration with the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), will conduct its sixth national study of U.S. large enterprise swine operations. The study will look at operations with 1,000 or more pigs and provide new information regarding health and management practices in the U.S. swine industry.

This study has four main objectives. They include describing current U.S. swine production practices related to housing, productivity, biosecurity and morbidity and mortality prevention; determining the producer-reported prevalence of select pathogens in weaned market pigs; describing antimicrobial stewardship and use patterns; and evaluating the presence of select economically important pathogens and characterize isolated organisms from biological specimens.

From June 2020 through August 2021, NAHMS will conduct a study of small enterprise swine operations in the U.S. focusing on operations with less than 1,000 pigs. This study will focus on describing current health and production practices; describing trends in swine health and disease management practices; characterizing movement, mortality and slaughter channels; and examining differences in marketing practices and movements on small and large U.S. swine operations.

AASV encourages your participation in the 2020 NAHMS Swine Study. Visit AgWeb to read about the are eight ways NAHMS swine studies have already made an impact in the swine industry.