True North Technologies

Show Pig Vaccination Schedule

by True North Tecnologies | Published December 3, 2020


A common question I get asked is “What should we vaccinate our pigs for and when should we do it? “  The answer really depends on your situation and how much risk you bear because of your location, show schedule, and  your  biosecurity protocols.
Before we get to the vaccine schedule, I’d like to talk about vaccines and vaccine handling a bit.  
I’m going to limit this discussion to vaccines administered by injection and leave the ones delivered by water out of the discussion for now.  There are basically two kinds of vaccine we use in pigs today. The first is modified live virus or MLV and the second are killed.
Vaccines themselves
The most common MLV is probably PRRS vaccine. It comes with two bottles one contains the dried modified live virus and the other a diluent to rehydrate it. Because these vaccines are live they must be administered quickly after rehydration and you need to avoid exposing it to disinfectants in your syringe. When you administer this to a pig the virus replicates just like an natural infection and the pig develops immunity just like it would to a natural infection. Because the virus is modified it doesn’t actually make the pig sick. PRRS vaccines are all live because in order to be effective they have to stimulate what is called cell mediated immunity. The only way we know how to get cell mediated immunity is with an MLV or natural infection. That is why all the killed PRRS vaccines are useless and the companies that marketed them commercially have all discontinued.
Killed vaccines are a little more complicated. Because the viruses or bacteria do not replicate the vaccine has to stimulate the immune system in other ways to get an immune response.  So in addition to the antigen itself the vaccine contains a carrier and an adjuvant. The adjuvant stimulates the immune system to process the antigen and develop immunity. Killed vaccines also tend to contain fairly large amounts of the antigen itself which also stimulates the immune system.  It is because of the carriers and the adjuvants that mixing killed vaccines together is not a good idea. You can either limit the ability of the immune system to process one or more of the antigens or the “overdose” of adjuvants and different carriers will greatly increase the chance of bad reactions which may even kill pigs. That said there are a few vaccines that are labeled to be mixed together. A specific example of vaccines that can be mixed are BI’s Mycoflex and Circoflex. 
Vaccine Handling
Everything you need to know about vaccine handling you already know if you know how to handle beer. The cardinal rule is don’t do anything to a vaccine that you would not do to your beer.  Here are a few examples.
You know that letting beer sit in the sun makes it go bad so protect your vaccines from light as well.
 Just like some beer vaccines may be better at room temperature so letting a vaccine get to room temperature before you use it can help reduce vaccine reactions.
You wouldn’t mix Sam Adams and Budweiser together before you drank them so why would you mix vaccines?
You wouldn’t open a beer, drink half of it, and then let the other half sit in the frig for a month before you finish it so don’t do that with your vaccine either.
Vaccination Schedules
There are two theories for a vaccination schedule. The first is to do the bare minimum and then deal with problems as they arise. We’ll call that the “Chevy plan” The second is to vaccinate for everything under the sun in hopes of preventing trouble down the road.  We’ll call that the “Cadillac plan.” Whichever philosophy you pick there are still options that you’ll have to decide. It really is just like buying a car.
 Which one you choose depends on how much risk you have in your area and how much risk you assume by the lifestyle your pigs lead.
If you live in an area with a low pig population and attend a terminal show at the end of your season then a chevy plan probably makes sense. However, if you live in a pig dense area or your show pigs live more of a jet set lifestyle going to numerous jackpot shows all season you probably should consider a Cadillac plan.  Talk to your veterinarian about your particular situation and decide which philosophy to take and then which options you want to include.
We live in a pig dense area and we do attend a few jackpot shows and bring gilts home from breeding shows so we have opted for more of a Cadillac plan. I will show you our schedule and mark what I think should be included at a minimum in a Chevy plan by putting an asterisk beside them. 
Gilts Pre Breeding:
PRRS ( We use PRRS pre-breeding in gilts because we are in a very pig dense area and have potentially positive finishers that are close to our farm so we have some risk of area spread.  You should consult with your veterinarian about your risk of PRRS and develop a plan based on their recommendation.)
 * Parvo Lepto Erysipelas at least 6 Weeks prior to Breeding
Mycoplacsma and Circovirus 6 Weeks prior to Breeding
*Parvo, Lepto, Erysipelas  2 Weeks Prior to Breeding 
Sows Pre Breeding:
*Parvo Lepto, Erysipelas  @ weaning
Prefarrow Gilts 
*E. coli, Clostridium  5 and 2 weeks Prefarrow for Gilts 
Prefarrow Sows j
*E. coli and Clostridium 2 weeks Prefarrow. 
At Weaning 
 *Mycoplasma Erysipelas, and Circovirus
*10 days after weaning: Influenza  booster two to three weeks later
*8-10 weeks of age  Erysipelas 
You can also vaccinate pigs for PRRS after three weeks of age.   We strongly suggest you consult your herd veterinarian before you make that decision so they can talk you through the pros and cons of doing so. 

We used to recommend rhinitis vaccine for pigs and in some cases for sows prefarrowing. We don’t make that blanket recommendation anymore and leave it to an individual decision based on your herd health.

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