‘Producers need to be ready for disease control’

British pig producers need to keep on their toes, when it comes to facing future challenges as it’s uncertain where there next challenge is coming from.

That was the message from Bishopton Vet Group’s Nigel Woolfenden who said when it came to disease control producers had to be prepared. “This means we have to manage and control risk by constant defence and this involves keeping on our toes and looking at where the next big disease challenge is coming from.”

And the UK’s pig health status is important to defend, he said. “The UK has a health status that is invaluable to us in terms of world trade.”

Constant defence by putting appropriate barriers in place was one of the main ways to help minimise the risk from the ever lengthening list of diseases. But all farms come across breaches in biosecurity and these are the ones that need controlling.

“Genetics coming on farm, animals moving off farm and feed coming in are all breach points of biosecurity. Lorries coming on to farm can be a risk as it’s difficult to create a sterile environment in a lorry, but when the three steps to hygiene are followed: cleaning and washing, drying the lorry and disinfecting, in this order, it can help minimise disease risk,” he said.

Mr Woolfenden explained how a whole chain approach, like that seen for the Quality Standard for Porcine Semen, should be used for hauliers and feed wagons. “This would help give producers piece of mind that wagons entering farms are safe and clean.”

Also making sure loading bays and feed bins are sited in correct positions can help minimise risk when lorries do enter. “Funds could be available to help build or re-site loading bays, re-site feed bins, provide dedicated feed pipes or extend inlet pipes as an example, so it’s worth investigating.”

Mr Woolfenden also urged farmers to work together and get involved with the regional health improvements programmes. “Being able to map pigs means epidemiological linkages can be made. Cooperation between pig farmers can help tackle disease in a more practical manner.”

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