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Water-flow variation and pharmacoepidemiology of tetracycline hydrochloride administration via drinking water in swine finishing farms

Paul M. Dorr DVM, PhD1, Megan S. Nemechek BS2, Alan B. Scheidt DVM, MS3, Ronald E. Baynes DVM, PhD4, Wondwossen A. Gebreyes DVM, PhD, DACVPM5, and Glen W. Almond DVM, PhD6
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  • 1 Research and Development, Merial Limited, 3239 Satellite Blvd, Duluth, GA 30096.
  • | 2 Department of Population Health and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606.
  • | 3 Swine Veterinary Services, Pfizer Animal Health, 1883 Flat Rock Church Rd, Louisburg, NC 27549.
  • | 4 Department of Population Health and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606.
  • | 5 Department of Veterinary Preventative Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.
  • | 6 Department of Population Health and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate variation of drinking-water flow rates in swine finishing barns and the relationship between drinker flow rate and plasma tetracycline concentrations in pigs housed in different pens.

Design—Cross-sectional (phase 1) and cohort (phase 2) studies.

Sample Population—13 swine finishing farms (100 barns with 7,122 drinkers) in phase 1 and 100 finishing-stage pigs on 2 finishing farms (1 barn/farm) in phase 2.

Procedures—In phase 1, farms were evaluated for water-flow variation, taking into account the following variables: position of drinkers within the barn, type of drinker (swing or mounted), pig medication status, existence of designated sick pen, and existence of leakage from the waterline. In phase 2, blood samples were collected from 50 pigs/barn (40 healthy and 10 sick pigs) in 2 farms at 0, 4, 8, 24, 48, and 72 hours after initiation of water-administered tetracycline HCl (estimated dosage, 22 mg/kg [10 mg/lb]). Plasma tetracycline concentrations were measured via ultraperformance liquid chromatography.

Results—Mean farm drinker flow rates ranged from 1.44 to 2.77 L/min. Significant differences in flow rates existed according to drinker type and whether tetracycline was included in the water. Mean drinker flow rates and plasma tetracycline concentrations were significantly different between the 2 farms but were not different between healthy and sick pigs. The plasma tetracycline concentrations were typically < 0.3 μg/mL.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Many factors affected drinker flow rates and therefore the amount of medication pigs might have received. Medication of pigs with tetracycline through water as performed in this study had questionable therapeutic value.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate variation of drinking-water flow rates in swine finishing barns and the relationship between drinker flow rate and plasma tetracycline concentrations in pigs housed in different pens.

Design—Cross-sectional (phase 1) and cohort (phase 2) studies.

Sample Population—13 swine finishing farms (100 barns with 7,122 drinkers) in phase 1 and 100 finishing-stage pigs on 2 finishing farms (1 barn/farm) in phase 2.

Procedures—In phase 1, farms were evaluated for water-flow variation, taking into account the following variables: position of drinkers within the barn, type of drinker (swing or mounted), pig medication status, existence of designated sick pen, and existence of leakage from the waterline. In phase 2, blood samples were collected from 50 pigs/barn (40 healthy and 10 sick pigs) in 2 farms at 0, 4, 8, 24, 48, and 72 hours after initiation of water-administered tetracycline HCl (estimated dosage, 22 mg/kg [10 mg/lb]). Plasma tetracycline concentrations were measured via ultraperformance liquid chromatography.

Results—Mean farm drinker flow rates ranged from 1.44 to 2.77 L/min. Significant differences in flow rates existed according to drinker type and whether tetracycline was included in the water. Mean drinker flow rates and plasma tetracycline concentrations were significantly different between the 2 farms but were not different between healthy and sick pigs. The plasma tetracycline concentrations were typically < 0.3 μg/mL.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Many factors affected drinker flow rates and therefore the amount of medication pigs might have received. Medication of pigs with tetracycline through water as performed in this study had questionable therapeutic value.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Dorr's work was supported by funds from private agricultural industry and Pfizer Animal Health.

Presented in part at the 39th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, San Diego, March 2008.

The authors thank Beth Barlow, Jessica Clark, Justin Cleary, Holly Hinson, Bryna Riley, Rebecca Robbins, Patty Routh, and Rita Sabadish for sample collection and laboratory work.

Address correspondence to Dr. Dorr.