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Results of a survey of owners of miniature swine to characterize husbandry practices affecting risks of foreign animal disease

Edith S. Marshall DVM, MPVM1, Tim E. Carpenter PhD2, and Mark C. Thurmond DVM, PhD3
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  • 1 Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 2 Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 3 Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

Abstract

Objective—To characterize husbandry practices that could affect the risks of foreign animal disease in miniature swine.

Design—Survey study.

Study Population—106 owners of miniature swine.

Procedures—An online survey of owners of miniature swine was conducted to obtain information about miniature pig and owner demographics; pig husbandry; movements of pigs; and pig contacts with humans, other miniature swine, and livestock.

Results—12 states, 106 premises, and 317 miniature swine were represented in the survey. More than a third (35%) of miniature swine owners also owned other livestock species. Regular contact with livestock species at other premises was reported by 13% of owners. More than a third of owners visited shows or fairs (39%) and club or association events (37%) where miniature swine were present. More than 40% of owners fed food waste to miniature swine. Approximately half (48%) of the veterinarians providing health care for miniature swine were in mixed-animal practice.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of this study indicated that miniature swine kept as pets can be exposed, directly and indirectly, to feed and other livestock, potentially introducing, establishing, or spreading a foreign animal disease such as foot-and-mouth disease. In addition, the veterinary services and carcass disposal methods used by miniature swine owners may reduce the likelihood of sick or dead pigs undergoing ante- or postmortem examination by a veterinarian.

Abstract

Objective—To characterize husbandry practices that could affect the risks of foreign animal disease in miniature swine.

Design—Survey study.

Study Population—106 owners of miniature swine.

Procedures—An online survey of owners of miniature swine was conducted to obtain information about miniature pig and owner demographics; pig husbandry; movements of pigs; and pig contacts with humans, other miniature swine, and livestock.

Results—12 states, 106 premises, and 317 miniature swine were represented in the survey. More than a third (35%) of miniature swine owners also owned other livestock species. Regular contact with livestock species at other premises was reported by 13% of owners. More than a third of owners visited shows or fairs (39%) and club or association events (37%) where miniature swine were present. More than 40% of owners fed food waste to miniature swine. Approximately half (48%) of the veterinarians providing health care for miniature swine were in mixed-animal practice.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of this study indicated that miniature swine kept as pets can be exposed, directly and indirectly, to feed and other livestock, potentially introducing, establishing, or spreading a foreign animal disease such as foot-and-mouth disease. In addition, the veterinary services and carcass disposal methods used by miniature swine owners may reduce the likelihood of sick or dead pigs undergoing ante- or postmortem examination by a veterinarian.

Contributor Notes

Supported by a contract with the California Department of Food and Agriculture and funds from the Department of Homeland Security and the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense.

The authors thank the California Potbellied Pig Association and the Southern California Association of Miniature and Potbellied Pigs.

Address correspondence to Dr. Marshall.