AASV unveils new boar stud guidelines to help industry
The American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) just released new boar stud guidelines to help provide some standardization to a rapidly growing industry.
According to Dr. Gary C. Althouse, of the University of Pennsylvania and AASV committee chair, the guidelines were the culmination of about three years worth of work, and they serve a definite need in the industry.
Althouse says, "I believe that it does provide a valuable resource for the practitioner. I also believe that it fills an industry void; that void having been a lack of uniformity in protocols to minimize the transmission of disease and contaminants in extended semen."
The guidelines, entitled "Health Hygiene, and Sanitation Guidelines for Boar Studs Providing Semen to the Domestic Market" and are being made available to AASV members for review and distribution to producers. The three-year review included the "formation of a committee, drafting the initial document, a stringent review process which included five referees and two AASV directorship boards (consisting of 16 veterinarians), and the final document that was approved by the AASV board of directors this year," Althouse explains.
Dr. Tom Burkgren, executive director AASV, adds, "There are some hurdles they had to cross, because of the diversity between boar studs and things like disease control and PRRS control. In order to get guidelines that were practical and could be useful for industry it took a lot of review."
Burkgren says, the whole process of developing guidelines, as this demonstrated, is very time-consuming work. "It is a laborious process. I think if the need is great enough and consensus can be reached, we will be doing other guidelines. We learned a lot from this process."
Burkgren adds, "We had a very dedicated committee, where most people may have thrown up their hands, but they didn't, and we think it is a huge step forward."
Althouse explains, "Over the past decade, artificial (AI) insemination saw exponential growth in its application within the North American swine industry. This rapid growth led to the establishment of more than 100 independent boar stud facilities throughout North America. Due to the lack of standardization in the industry during this growth phase, a concomitant number of protocols and individually-defined standards were established," he says.
Development of specific guidelines or standards was the next logical step to provide the necessary clarity and comparability desired by domestic and foreign agencies that interact with our industry," Althouse explains.
"To date, nobody had undertaken the much-needed task of scientifically defining standards related to the health, hygiene and sanitation of boar studs which produce extended semen for the market," he says. "Due to the health implications, I believe the AASV saw itself as one of the most attuned bodies to develop such guidelines for the swine industry," Althouse adds.
The six-page document is broken down into sections focusing on pre-entry (herd of origin) health requirements for semen donor boars, isolation health requirements and health requirements for resident AI stud herds. In addition, there is a section on hygiene and sanitation requirements for semen collection, processing and storage.
Althouse explains, "The committee felt that all of these topics are critical to a healthy and viable swine industry. When drafting the document, the committee strived to provide specific procedures and guidance pertaining to each of the topics, when available."
Althouse says that some items, however, lacked the necessary scientific information to provide procedural guidance (e.g., PRRSV).
"In these situations, the committee strived to provide as much direction as the current state of knowledge would allow. With this in mind, the committee came to the conclusion that these guidelines are a 'living' document that will need to be updated as time progresses. To oversee this living document, a stand-alone committee is now being formed by the AASV."
Althouse adds that the committee was very aware of the diversity that exists in the swine industry and a goal was to create guidelines applicable to the entire industry.
"I believe the committee did an excellent job in coming up with guidelines which will be highly applicable for any size or type of operation," he adds.