Editor’s note: The following expanded Veterinarians On Call column is devoted to suggestions for exposing a sow herd to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV).

We believe, regardless of the following words offered, that no one knows or can accurately predict how present clinical responses to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) infections will manifest over time. There are no tested, objective protocols. There are, at best, vague indices which are often used to define “success” or “failure.” Moreover, variation is a consistent feature of biology and swine production. Herd exposure to farrowing materials has evolved on farms to be a procedure commonly performed without consideration of context, clarity of objectives or process design.

Based on our education and experience, we believe the following represents a logical, empirical, reasoned and balanced approach for herd exposure to PEDV.

What are the goals for controlled oral exposure (feedback) of PEDV?

The primary outcomes to achieve with intentional and controlled exposure of the sow herd to PEDV are:

1. Establishing herd immunity to minimize the time period of baby pig deaths by infecting and recovering all sows and gilts in as short a time frame as possible

2. Ensuring all sows and gilts are on the same timeline to immunity and cessation of shedding of PEDV within the population