This year’s International Pig Veterinary Society (IPVS) Congress was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the theme: “New perspectives for swine production: biosecurity, productivity and innovation”.
The IPVS was formed in 1969, with the first congress held in Cambridge and the second in Hannover in 1972. Since then, the congress has been held every even year. South Africa hosted the 20th congress in 2008, which was a tremendous success.
The 26th congress should have been held in 2020 but was postponed to 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges and setbacks, the organising committee did their best to put on a great congress. The value of an in-person meetings was very apparent, being able to foster relationships and meet up with colleagues from all over the world to discuss disease issues of mutual interest and unique challenges in different countries cannot be underestimated.
The Tom Alexander Memorial Lecture was presented by Prof. Robert (Bob) Friendship, entitled “Simple Things: The basic principles of swine health management”. Prof. Friendship highlighted five simple things he thought were important in modern pig production:
- Practical biosecurity
- Disease eradication by controlling nursery pig flow
- Understanding that most endemic pig diseases have multiple contributing factors
- Endemic diseases are controlled by maximising immunity and minimising challenges
- The application of production records to solve health problems.
During the pre-congress lectures, Brazilian delegates highlighted how their pig industry was growing and that they were aiming to increase exports. Brazil is a country blessed with soils and climate conducive to grain production, which translates into reasonable feed prices driving down the cost of production. Brazil’s aim is to become third-largest pork exporter, surpassing Canada.
All the topical endemic diseases were discussed; however, more time was spent on African swine fever (ASF) and sustainability than previous congresses.
Speakers highlighted their experiences with ASF outbreaks, including the spread within buildings among sows once ASF enters the unit. The pattern of distribution was variable in that, in some incidences, it would spread from index case to neighbours, while, in other cases, spread would be randomised, i.e. skip immediate neighbours and affect animals in other parts of the house. This has significant influence on decision-making with the “tooth extraction” protocol. It is apparent that culling whole rooms/buildings is prudent. Another significant talk was an experience with an unregistered vaccine causing an outbreak.
Sustainability means different things to different people. Ensuring that consumers are willing to buy pork products was highlighted by many, which includes welfare, environment, and food safety aspects. Other presenters talked about improving cost efficiency in a number of ways, including reproductive efficiency and efficient semen production. The most interesting perspective was from a Brazilian presenter, whose concern was getting young people to want to farm in the future.
Congresses of this type are of real value to network, exchange ideas, and keep abreast of scientific developments. We look forward to the IPVS 2024 Congress in Leipzig, which will be held in conjunction with the European College of Porcine Health Management.