Practical Biosecurity for Pigs

Pigs transport

Steve Jones

Steve Jones

With the cold weather here, pig farms throughout the country are concerned about the increased chances of the spread of disease in their herds.  Experience has shown that a health outbreak damages the efficiency of the herds, increases the workload on the farm, and reduces the profitability of the operation.  Depending on the disease, and it’s severity, those damages can be mild or severe.

Good biosecurity for a hog farm requires basic common sense and an attitude of consistent awareness about the possible pathways by which a pathogen can be spread.  Most of the diseases that appear in a farm’s herd are the result of it being brought onto that farm through on a failure in a biosecurity protocol.  While some pathogens can be transmitted through the air, or on insects, rodents, or birds, most diseases ride onto the farm on a vehicle or person.

Some basic, common sense protocols, can go a long way toward maintaining a healthy herd.

  • Each building on a farm should have its own set of clothing and boots for the people managing those pigs. Changing clothes and boots and washing hands has been shown to be effective in reducing the transmission of bacteria and viruses, even when health problems were in adjacent barns.  Do not use equipment in different barns if possible.  Wash and disinfect moved equipment if it is necessary.
  • All trucks hauling pigs to market need to be power-washed, disinfected, and allowed time to dry before they are allowed to back up to a loading chute. Never allow a truck driver to enter any part of the barn or chute.   Communicate with your driver about where he has been and about who he has been hauling for recently.
  • All feed delivery trucks should disinfect their tires prior to entering, and immediately upon exiting a farm. All drivers should wear protective disposable boots when they exit the trucks.

Drivers should never enter any part of the facility.

  • Foot baths can be a very effective method of reducing pathogen transfer on a farm, but most are not kept free of organic matter, and the boots are not brushed clean prior to dipping. It is a good practice to have cleaned boots designated for that facility, soak in a clean bath when they are not being worn.
  • All supplies coming onto a farm are potential pathogen sources and should be inspected to ensure they are clean and dry and disinfected if appropriate. Semen deliveries should follow a protocol to insure its delivery does not introduce pathogens from other delivery sites.
  • Dispose of dead animals in a manner that does not attract wild animals that may also be visiting neighboring farms. Do not allow rendering trucks access to your facilities general area.
  • Avoid high traffic situations off-farm, such as vet supply outlets, convenience stores, etc., where cross-contamination with other operations is possible.
  • Keep a rodent control program in place year-round. Inspect and repair all possible entry points to your facilities that would allow birds to enter.
  • Isolate all breeding stock coming onto the farm in a manner appropriate for the diseases known to your area, and the source of the animals. Isolating from the resident stock for 30 days is recommended.
  • Work with your veterinarian to develop other biosecurity strategies that are appropriate for your operation and neighborhood.

Biosecurity is a very wide-ranging subject, and excellent in-depth guidelines can be found on the internet.  The attitude of the people managing the pigs is the key to maintaining herd health.  It must be an ingrained thought process, that is as much a part of managing pigs, as feeding and inspecting them is.

Here at CVA we are very aware that we are a key player in our customer’s biosecurity challenge.  We have significant biosecurity protocols in place, not only with our delivery truck drivers but also at our mills as we receive and process the ingredients.  If there is anything we can do or questions we can answer, please give us a call.