MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

June 16, 2014

Virus takes toll on state's swine

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma has lost about 8 percent of its swine inventory from a virus that is sweeping across the country, and the executive director of the Oklahoma Pork Council says the loss has driven consumer prices higher.

“The toll is tremendous in the loss of pigs, but it’s bigger than that,” Roy Lee Lindsey told The Journal Record. “When you consider the people who work on these farms, everything they’re taught from the first day is that they have to take care of their pigs.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on June 5 ordered producers, veterinarians and diagnostic labs to report positive occurrences of the virus porcine epidemic diarrhea, or PED.

State Department of Agriculture veterinarian Justin Roach said the virus is species specific and cannot be passed to humans.

The National Pork Producers Council reported that an estimated 7 million piglets nationwide have died in 30 states since the virus was first detected last spring. Oklahoma typically has a collective inventory of about 2.3 million hogs. Lindsey said a PED-infected sow will lose every piglet born for three to five weeks, and a typical commercial operation will farrow baby pigs from about 5 percent of its sows each week. So within 20 weeks, every sow in the system will have produced offspring.

According to Lindsey, that equates to about a 7.5 percent loss.

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