Pigmen face avian flu threat from wild birds

Outdoor pig producers in the UK are being urged to do their bit to help cut the risk of avian flu infection.

The National Pig Association has advised pigmen to redouble their efforts to keep birds out of buildings and away from outdoor pig units.

Most outdoor sows are fed with spin feeder wagons leaving rich pickings for raiding birds.

Dry and pellet-fed indoor and outdoor rearing and finishing units also provide round the clock feed supplies for wild birds. 

Covered ad lib hoppers, culls of non-protected birds and use of audio and visual bird scaring devices are all worth considering.

If Avian Flu does reach the UK, it will have a significant effect on the pig industry, which counts an estimated 8,400 mixed pig and poultry holdings.

It may also create opportunities, although there are no signs yet that falling chicken consumption in some EU countries has seen pigmeat sales rise.

The outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in Brazil may also open up pigmeat export opportunities in Russia, which takes 20% of Brazilian meat exports.

A suspected case of Classical Swine Fever in Suffolk last week also served as a wake up on the risks faced from notifiable diseases.

Thankfully the alert at Grampian’s Haverhill abattoir proved a false alarm, but it is only five years since East Anglia was swept by the last CSF outbreak.