In this paper, multilevel logistic models which take into account the multilevel structure of multi-site pig production were used to estimate the variances between pigs produced in Danish multi-site pig production facilities regarding seroconversion to Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae serotype 2 (Ap2) and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (Mh). Based on the estimated variances, three newly described computational methods (model linearisation, simulation and linear modelling) and the standard method (latent-variable approach) were used to estimate the correlations (intra-class correlation components, ICCs) between pigs in the same production unit regarding seroconversion. Substantially different values of ICCs were obtained from the four methods. However, ICCs obtained by the simulation and the model linearisation were quite consistent. Data used for estimation were collected from 1161 pigs from 429 litters reared in 36 batches at six Danish multi-site farms chronically infected with the agents. At the farms, weaning age was 3-4.5 weeks, after which batches of pigs were reared using all-in/all-out management by room. Blood samples were collected shortly before: weaning, transfer from weaning-site to finishing-site, and sending the first pigs in the batch for slaughter (third sampling). Few pigs seroconverted at the weaning-sites, whereas considerable variation in seroconversion was observed at the finishing-sites. Multilevel logistic models (initially including four levels: farm, batch, litter, pig) were used to decompose the variation in seroconversion at the finishing-site. However, there was essentially no clustering at the litter level-leading to the use of three-level models. In the case of Ap2, clustering within batch was so high that the data eventually were reduced to two levels (farm, batch). For seroconversion to Ap2, ICC between pigs within batches was similar to90%, whereas the ICC between pigs within batches for Mh was similar to40%. This indicates that the possibility for Mh to spread between pigs within batches is lower than for Ap2. The diversity in seroconversion between batches within the same farm was large for Ap2 (ICC similar to 10%), whereas there was a relative strongly ICC (similar to50%) between batches for Mh. This indicates that the transmission of Mh is more consistent within a farm, whereas the presence of Ap2 varies between batches within a farm.
- intra-unit correlation
- multi-site pig production
- Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae
- multilevel modelling
- Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae