A Breath of Fresh Air: Tackling Swine Respiratory Disease.

Published on: June 22, 2023
Author: Biochem Team
Time: 6 min read

Respiratory disease continues to be a major economic and health problem in the swine industry worldwide. Respiratory diseases in pigs are common and can cause significant economic losses due to reduced growth, feed efficiency, and damage to the respiratory tract. Respiratory dysfunction affects animal welfare and often leads to increased antibiotic use.

The Pervasive Problem of Respiratory Diseases.

Respiratory diseases can occur at any stage of production but appear more frequently and severely in young pigs (≤6 months of age), especially in intensive systems with high stocking densities and poor ventilation. In fact, porcine respiratory disease has been recognized as a major pathogen-identified cause of mortality in pigs, accounting for approximately 47% of the deaths in nursery pigs and 75% in grown-finishing pigs.1

A variety of pathogens can cause respiratory disease in pigs, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Often, more than one pathogen can infect the respiratory system at the same time, resulting in a complex and severe disease. In addition, the incidence of respiratory disease in pigs is influenced by many factors, including environmental, farm and animal factors.

Studies of the associations between respiratory disease and farm factors have shown that housing characteristics, such as natural ventilation and lack of disinfection, can increase the risk of respiratory disease. Extreme temperatures, humidity, and air quality can make pigs more susceptible to infection. Sudden temperature changes can cause thermal stress and inflammation in pigs’ respiratory systems, predisposing them to infection. In addition, changing weather patterns can alter the distribution and transmission of respiratory pathogens and vectors.

Age, genetics, health status, and immunity of pigs can influence their resistance or susceptibility to respiratory disease. Pigs with underlying disease or nutritional deficiencies may have compromised immunity and be at increased risk. With respect to young piglets with their immature passive immunity after birth, the health, and immune status of the sow and the quality of the colostrum, time, and quantity of intake can play an important role in susceptibility to respiratory disease. Pigs with underlying nutritional deficiencies may also have impaired immunity and increased risk of respiratory disease.

Wheezing and Sneezing.

The symptoms of respiratory disease in pigs vary depending on the type, severity, and duration of infection and may be manifested by overt clinical signs and mortality or may be subclinical, with adverse effects only apparent through poor performance. Previous studies have examined the relationship between respiratory disease and production traits and found that an increased prevalence of respiratory disease was associated with poorer on-farm performance measures of mortality, deadweight, back fat, and carcass weight.

One challenge in detecting respiratory disease in pigs is that symptoms are often subtle or non-specific. Pigs may show signs of coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, labored breathing, decreased appetite, or lethargy. However, these signs may be caused by other factors, such as stress, environmental conditions, parasites, or nutritional deficiencies. Another challenge is that obvious signs—such as coughing and sneezing—may not appear until the disease has progressed to a severe stage.

The severity and economic impact of respiratory disease is related to stocking density and the type and size of a herd. Although mortality is usually low, economic losses result from a negative effect on growth rate, reduced feed efficiency and additional treatment costs. Respiratory disease can negatively affect production traits, such as average daily gain and carcass weight. In addition, the extended fattening period results in a higher proportion of light pigs at slaughter.

Management Solutions.

On-farm biosecurity is the first line of defense in preventing the introduction and spread of infectious agents among pigs. This critical step includes measures such as quarantine, isolation, disinfection, vaccination, and testing, and lays the foundation for a healthy and disease-free herd. Regular surveillance to identify unwell pigs and provide timely and effective treatment also plays a critical role in maintaining the overall health of a pig farm.

Providing pigs with the right nutrition is essential and includes providing feeds that meet the nutritional needs of pigs at different stages of production and are contaminant-free. Fuel for optimal health and performance—a well-nourished pig is better equipped to resist disease and reach its full productive potential.

The environment in which pigs live can dramatically affect their well-being. Effective environmental management includes providing adequate space, ventilation, temperature, humidity, lighting, and bedding. Providing optimal comfort while maintaining hygiene can significantly reduce stress and the risk of spreading disease among pigs.

Peppermint oil, Eucalyptus oil, and Menthol: A Winning Combination.

Essential oils have been used for centuries and are known for their antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties. For respiratory health, these natural compounds can provide relief. BronchoVest contains a carefully formulated blend of peppermint and eucalyptus oils, along with menthol, to provide targeted support for respiratory health in pigs.

Figure 1: The administration of BronchoVest can have the following supportive effects.

Figure 1: The administration of BronchoVest can have the following supportive effects.

Eucalyptus oil helps to improve lung function. It restores the natural activity of the respiratory epithelium and removes mucus from the bronchial tubes. The main component of eucalyptus—1,8-cineol—can be absorbed through inhalation and through the gastrointestinal tract, showing antimicrobial activity against a wide range of pathogens.

Natural peppermint oil acts as a bronchodilator, reducing mucus production and increasing airflow to the lungs. Peppermint oil can also relieve pain and stress and improve breathing in affected pigs. Menthol crystals from Mentha piperita have extraordinary effects. Menthol binds to sensory receptors that are activated by cold temperatures, which are expressed in the lungs and other organs. In the skin, this activation has a cooling effect, but in the nasal receptors, the effect is easier breathing, reduced swelling, and an overall effect of reduced mucous membrane irritation.

Breathe Easy with BronchoVest.

With its high content of active essential oils—including active eucalyptol (1,8-cineol)—BronchoVest has been shown in vitro to have antimicrobial activity against several pathogens. BronchoVest is a water-based formulation. This means that it is free of alcohol and does not leave any oily residue. As such, BronchoVest is suitable for use in drinking water.

Don’t let respiratory diseases catch you off guard—BronchoVest provides a natural, non-invasive method to ensure that your pigs breathe easy.


1 Pirolo M, Espinosa-Gongora C, Bogaert D, Guardabassi L. The porcine respiratory microbiome: recent insights and future challenges. Animal Microbiome. 2021;3(1).

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