You wouldn’t knowingly give your pigs Haemophilus parasuis or Streptococcis suis would you?

Researchers at the University of Minnesota are looking at the plausibility of exposing pigs to those diseases soon after birth to promote passive immunity needed to head off the pathogens without developing the full-fledged disease.

Carlos Pijoan, a University of Minnesota veterinarian, suggests it may be feasible to expose young pigs to the disease before they lose colostral immunity. Then when they come in contact with the disease in later production phases, they’ll be protected and won’t break with the disease.

University researchers are working on Strep. suis in 5-day-old pigs. So far, Pijoan reports, 150 pigs have been exposed while protected by maternal antibodies. None have contracted the active Strep. suis disease.

The concept is still experimental, Pijoan warns. It’s not something you should try in your operation tomorrow. But if the idea pans out, it could work in three-site production systems that tend to have chronic outbreaks of some diseases.

More trials are needed to find out what cost in growth lag, if any, will be associated with exposing young pigs to such pathogens.