Establishing a good biosecurity strategy is one of the most pressing necessities in swine production across the world. The challenge with African swine fever was unprecedented by any other disease outbreak and there is no question that good biosecurity is indispensable for the success and sustainability of any swine farm. Bayer Animal Health Global Swine Veterinary Scientific Affairs Manager, Dr Luiz Felipe Lecznieski, highlights some essential biosecurity measures.
Pork is the most consumed meat globally.1 As the world population grows, this demand is anticipated to increase, and along with it import and export activities. And while globalization increases demand, it brings with it greater movement of animals and products of animal origin across borders. This also means an increased risk of disease transmission.
Healthy, well-cared for pigs are prerequisites for the success of any swine farm. To minimize the risk of diseases and optimize swine health, thereby also optimizing profitability, robust biosecurity measures are more important than ever.
Bayer Animal Health Global Swine Veterinary Scientific Affairs Manager, Dr Luiz Felipe Lecznieski, recommends the essential internal and external preventative measures to help reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases.
Defense against external threats
From people to animals, feed deliveries to transport, any movement onto the farm has the potential to expose pigs to disease.
Workers and visitors to the farm may be carriers of infectious pathogens. Everyone who gets in contact with the herd should shower and change their clothing and footwear, wearing a single set of clothing, when moving in to and out of the production facility. The number of visitors in contact with the herd should be minimized and limited to what’s necessary.
New animals brought in from another farm can also pose a risk and need to be quarantined. They should be carefully examined and integrated with the rest of the herd only when they are given a clean bill of health. Minimize the introduction of pigs from outside farms, markets or villages and limit the number of sources for replacement stock. Farmers should be able to easily trace their supplier and health track record.
Biosecurity when transporting pigs is just as critical. Just as farmers need to regularly disinfect pig pens, the same strategy should be used to wash, disinfect and dry trucks between each farm delivery, ensuring each herd of pigs enter a clean truck every time.
There can also be threats from within
Controlling exposure to pathogens within the facility is just as important as outside risk. Every farm should draw up a standard operating protocol that workers and handlers strictly adhere to – this should consider pest control, movement of animals and cleaning of the facility.
The proper movement of the herds around the facility is vital in the fight to control major swine diseases, such as clostridiosis in piglets. Using an all-in-all-out system in which the herds remain together when moving between facilities can help to prevent and control disease. Between each movement, thoroughly clean and treat facilities with an appropriate disinfectant, and allow it to dry out before welcoming the next -batch of animals. The same cleaning rules apply to any vehicles used on the premises.
Some pathogens can also spread in the air, despite thorough cleaning protocols. Ensuring enough distance between facilities and other farms in the area helps to limit the transmission risk of airborne diseases.
Despite best efforts to keep pests out, swine feed commonly attracts insects and rodents that can carry infectious diseases, such as Salmonella, PRRSv and Brachyspira, that can be passed on to the pigs. Enforcing appropriate pest control within the facility and implementing an effective tick prevention program for the herd helps protect swine health.
By far, the most important element of any biosecurity strategy is ensuring farm workers and handlers follow it as part of their working mindset. Regular training – several times each year– and a good understanding of why the measures are necessary, helps to keep teams motivated and committed to on-farm biosecurity strategies, building a biosecurity culture.
There is no “silver bullet” for biosecurity; the best defense continues to be having a good strategy and ensuring that it is implemented diligently by the entire team.