Belgium to cull 4,000 pigs to thwart African Swine Fever

A cull of more than 4,000 domestic pigs has been announced for southern Belgium as cases mount in wild boar and more non-EU countries ban Belgian pork products.

A total of 4,150 pigs will be culled on 58 farms within a 240-square-mile infection zone bordering Luxembourg.

Six new ASF cases have been confirmed since Monday (24 September), bringing the total to 15 in Luxembourg wild boar, according to the Boerenbond, the Belgian farmers’ union.  

See also: Guide to biosecurity measures to keep pigs disease-free

Keep ASF out of the UK

In response to the rise in cases of ASF in Europe the Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha) has reminded UK pig farmers and others in the industry of good biosecurity practice:

  • Use dedicated clothing and boots for you and anyone coming on to your premises.
  • Prevent vehicles or equipment from coming on to your premises unless cleaned and disinfected first.
  • Ensure that people who look after or visit your pigs understand the disease risk of bringing back meat products and, in particular, wild boar meat or pork/pork products from affected countries. Trade of pork from affected areas in these countries is illegal.
  • Don’t bring meat products on to the farm to avoid accidental access to pigs.

Farmers’ calls for pigs to be removed from the infection zone were met by Belgian minister for agriculture Denis Ducarme on Sunday evening, with strong backing from the European Commission.

Boerenbond said the emptying of the infection zone was a positive measure for export confidence as well as disease control.

An extension of the control zone has been ordered since the initial confirmation of the virus in wild boar in Etalle, Luxembourg, on 13 September.  

A total of 13 countries had banned Belgian pork products by the start of the week – South Korea, China, Taiwan, Belarus, Mexico, The Philippines, Japan, South Africa, Serbia, Uruguay, Australia and Malaysia.

UK action

Calls for the UK government to ban Belgian pork will be fruitless because of EU laws, according to National Pig Association (NPA) chief executive Zoe Davies.

Dr Davies said: “I totally understand why some members want to see imports banned from Belgium, Romania or other countries where ASF is present. In reality, the government has no legal power to do that.”

She explained that the EU’s ASF regulatory framework meant the UK fell under regional trade rules.

“While that does bring some obvious concerns, it is also worth bearing in mind that, one day, if the worst comes to the worst, we might actually be grateful for that. It could make a huge difference during an outbreak if unaffected parts of the country were still allowed to export.”

More on African Swine Fever

Get the latest news about ASF and what you can do to prevent the virus entering your farm with the Pig Progress African Swine Fever information hub.