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Homemade Vaccine Cuts Death Loss in Pigs
Dallas Tidwell uses a homemade serum extracted from sows' blood to 'vaccinate newborn pigs against several scour-related illnesses.
The serum vaccination works similar to the way pigs receive antibodies through the sow's colostrum milk. Cull sows are kept and hyper-immunized (over-vaccinated to boost their immunity level). The blood se-rum increases the level of immunity that can be passed onto the offspring. The cull sows are hyper-immunized for clostridium, TGE (transmissible gastroenternitis), E. Coli, and some strep-related problems.
The program's success is shown by a drop in the overall death loss from more than 20% to 3%, reduced veterinary, medicine and vaccine bills, and almost complete elimination of the disease outbreaks that once plagued the operation. Before starting the program, Tidwell was spending about $1,500 to $2,000 a month for vaccines alone.
Tidwell's veterinarian, Dr. Kenny Krausnick, developed and fine-tuned the program. "We were using a lot of commercial serums to combat problems within the herd," says Krausnick. "Dallas asked if we could make our own serum and also get the added benefits of the herds' natural immunities."
The cull sows are vaccinated once each week for six weeks before their blood can be drawn. Three to five sows donate one gallon of blood each month to produce the serum. The blood is refrigerated for at least 12 hours to let the serum rise to the top. A centrifuge is used to spin out any remaining impurities from the serum. A preservative is the only added ingredient to the blood se-rum. About 3,000 cubic centimeters (cc) of serum can be made from each gallon of blood. Each pig is given 3 cc of the serum orally within 12 hours of birth.
"We had a real bad clostridium problem," says Tidwell. "Since we started using the serum, we haven't had to vaccinate any sows or their offspring against clostridium. We also had a chronic TOE problem. Since starting the serum program, we haven't had any serious TGE scours outbreaks. If a litter breaks out with TGE or some type of scours, it receives another dose of the serum. The labor cost of the program is less than the labor cost of constantly treating sick pigs."
Although Tidwell uses the serum in a large operation, he says it can work in almost any hog operation with scours-related herd health problems. A serum program could be economically set up for a producer with about a 100-sow herd, Tidwell and Krausnick say.
The initial investment was $1,500, including $1,100 for the centrifuge. A producer could get by without a centrifuge by allowing gravity to work and continually pouring off the serum that rises to the top, says Tidwell. However, this process is more time-consuming than using a centrifuge, he adds.
Besides the centrifuge, the equipment includes a small vacuum pump that costs about $75, collection jars, rubber tubing, and a syringe to administer the serum. Tidwell uses old 1-gal. pickle jars to collect the blood. A local machinist adapted the lids to connect with the rubber tubing.
(Story reprinted with permission from the NEBRASKA FARMER)

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1990 - Volume #14, Issue #6