Vet’s View Pigs

Im­ple­ment­ing biose­cu­rity

Country Smallholding - - Contents -

BIOSE­CU­RITY IS de­fined as pro­ce­dures or mea­sures de­signed to pro­tect the pop­u­la­tion against harm­ful bi­o­log­i­cal or bio­chem­i­cal sub­stances. When it comes to live­stock, and pigs in par­tic­u­lar, these pro­ce­dures are to pre­vent ingress of in­fec­tious dis­eases, such as viruses, and non-in­fec­tious dis­ease, such as lis­te­ria. The preven­tion of dis­ease is al­ways my main goal when it comes to biose­cu­rity, but it also in­cludes re­duc­ing the spread of dis­ease within the farm and pig herd. Af­ter all, healthy an­i­mals have im­proved wel­fare and are more pro­duc­tive.

Biose­cu­rity of pigs at the farm level is taken ex­tremely se­ri­ously, with some high-health units re­quir­ing vis­i­tors to un­dress, shower and put on clothes which never leave the premises be­fore you even set foot on the farm.

The goal of a biose­cu­rity pro­gramme is to main­tain the health and pro­duc­tiv­ity of pigs in a prac­ti­cal, cost­ef­fec­tive way. Nu­mer­ous fac­tors con­trib­ute to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a plan. These fac­tors can be thought of as links in a chain. A biose­cu­rity pro­gramme is only as strong as its weak­est link. Every small­hold­ing with pigs is unique and there­fore any biose­cu­rity plan should be be­spoke. It will take into ac­count the in­di­vid­ual needs and prac­ti­cal­i­ties of the farm.

If your pigs are be­ing pro­duced for food and sold in a more com­mer­cial set­ting, of­ten a biose­cu­rity plan is an es­sen­tial part of many on-farm food safety programmes.

Dis­ease con­trol is one of the most chal­leng­ing ar­eas for pig-keep­ers. The best aim is for min­i­mal clin­i­cal dis­ease sta­tus through­out the herd.


The main sit­u­a­tions with the high­est biose­cu­rity risks for dis­ease in­tro­duc­tion are:

• Adding new pigs to the herd.

• Tak­ing pigs to shows and bring­ing them back to the hold­ing.

• Vis­i­tors, es­pe­cially those with pigs of their own.

• Wildlife.

• Inan­i­mate ex­ter­nal ob­jects, such as trail­ers and equip­ment.


So how do we min­imise these risks?

When adding new pigs to the herd:

• Quar­an­tine new ar­rivals for a min­i­mum of 30 days. This will al­low clin­i­cal signs of any dis­ease to ap­pear. Quar­an­tine means good pro­to­cols; visit the ex­ist­ing herd first on your daily rounds and have dif­fer­ent wellies and over­alls for deal­ing with the new ar­rivals. • Ob­tain the health sta­tus of any an­i­mals you pur­chase. En­sure that they are the same or bet­ter than yours. This can be done by ask­ing their vet to speak to yours, or by re­quest­ing cer­tain tests. • Vac­ci­nate for spe­cific dis­eases.

Ob­vi­ously shows are a dis­ease risk with pigs from lots of dif­fer­ent hold­ings con­gre­gat­ing in one area, so when the show cir­cuit re­turns:

• En­sure that vac­ci­na­tions are up to date.

• When re­turn­ing from shows, iso­late your pigs for at least 30 days.

Ideally sep­a­rate the show an­i­mals for the en­tirety of the show sea­son. • Vis­i­tors bring a wel­come op­por­tu­nity to show off your hard work, but care needs to be taken. Use dis­in­fec­tant foot dips or, even bet­ter, pro­vide wellies and over­alls to pro­tect your pigs. • Re­quest that vis­i­tors haven’t vis­ited pigs on the same day or, even bet­ter, for the pre­vi­ous 24 hours.

Wildlife can pose a risk of dis­ease trans­fer­ence, par­tic­u­larly if your lo­cal fauna con­sists of wild boar.

While keep­ing wildlife at bay can be tricky in the out­door en­vi­ron­ment, risks can be mit­i­gated against. Cover feed or keep it in bins to dis­cour­age ro­dents and birds, both of which can carry dis­eases.

Don’t of­fer ex­cess feed so that there is food left in troughs or on the floor.


Shar­ing equip­ment is a great way to keep cost down, but it’s also a risk in terms of dis­ease trans­mis­sion. Thor­ough clean­ing and dis­in­fec­tion are re­quired be­tween hold­ings. Al­low suf­fi­cient time for any equip­ment to dry be­fore us­ing — the more fal­low time the bet­ter.

These pro­to­cols are also rel­e­vant to dis­ease re­stric­tions in the face of an out­break. Sick an­i­mals should be iso­lated and vis­ited af­ter the rest of the herd. Sep­a­rate wellies and cloth­ing should be worn, and any equip­ment used should be dis­in­fected.

While the dan­gers of dis­ease en­ter­ing and spread­ing through the herd can­not be elim­i­nated en­tirely, tak­ing these fun­da­men­tal and prac­ti­cal steps should go some way to­wards mit­i­gat­ing the risks.

The goal of a biose­cu­rity pro­gramme is to main­tain the health and pro­duc­tiv­ity of pigs in a prac­ti­cal, cost-ef­fec­tive way

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