Ambassador: Tom Mertens, Belgium

Publication date: June 2019 | Theme: Health management

Challenges: Optimal vaccination strategies

A group of 13 pig farms in the same region have reduced PRRS problems by 30% in a three-year period by working together and learning from each other to help tackle the problem. They share information and have worked out a common plan which includes using a joint vaccination strategy, drawing up biosecurity plans for the individual farms and sharing information about health problems.

They have learned that solving health problems on pig farms, both in general and with PRRS specifically, requires a total approach.




  • 2.5 more piglets weaned per sow
  • More than 5% increase in piglet weaning weight
  • 5% increase in daily live weight gain in weaners
  • 5% better feed conversion rate in finishers
  • Gross margin increase of 12.6%
  • Reduction in production costs of pig meat by 4.9%


  • Veterinarian time and medicine costs (euro/sow/year) are 32.7% higher
  • Labour time and therefore cost increased

Innovation in practice

Information exchange and joint strategy is key to this approach. A joint vaccination strategy has been implemented in combination with improved biosecurity status at the individual farms and information about diseases and other relevant problems are shared, with researchers supporting the farmers’ efforts. PRRS strains are typed so that biosafety leaks can be detected. Based on the individual results of audits, an individual plan for each farm has been set up.

  • Farms are screened twice per year for the presence of PRRS and farmers gather to discuss results with an expert
  • Increased awareness of the importance of biosafety and continuous monitoring by the farmers e.g. quarantine strategies, disinfectant techniques etc
  • Awareness that solving general health problems and specific PRRS issues requires a holistic approach
  • All farms have the same veterinarian
  • All farms use the same vaccines and vaccine schedule
  • A future aim is to use the same sire line at all the farms

More about this best practice

To access more information, contact RPIG (Belgium): Laurens Vandelannoote