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- The size of investment in a modern piggery is substantial.
- Biosecurity of the national herd was placed in the spotlight when two serious pig diseases were identified in the country early in the 21st century.
- Most pork producers have realised the value of high animal health standards for their businesses. Therefore, besides being compartmentalised, many have depopulated their farms and restocked them with specific pathogen-free (SPF) animals.
- Biosecurity on pig farms is a set of protocols and standards designed to reduce the risk of diseases not present within the pig population from entering the pig farm.
- More formalised biosecurity measures, such as the pig compartmentalisation system, is applicable to commercial pig farmers, suppliers to abattoirs and exporters of pork products.
The size of investment in a modern piggery is substantial. Typically, this investment ranges from R70 000 to R80 000 per sow space. It is imperative that one protects this investment and ensures a successful return on investment (ROI).
Maintaining a healthy pig population is paramount to optimal production levels, and therefore a rigorous and committed implementation of biosecurity measures is non-negotiable. There are different levels of biosecurity – national, regional and farm level.
Biosecurity of the national herd was placed in the spotlight when two serious pig diseases were identified in the country early in the 21st century. The outbreaks of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) in 2004 and classical swine fever (CSF) in 2005 underlined the importance of a high level of biosecurity on farms.
These disease outbreaks gave impetus to the development of the pig compartment system. Pig compartments are recognised by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as a means of ensuring high-level biosecurity compliance. In brief, a compartment is a clearly identified physical site that is fenced, where there is strict access control in place as well as regular disease monitoring and surveillance. Compartments can be certified disease-free.
An example of regional biosecurity in South Africa would be the region infected by African swine fever (ASF), with the appropriate movement permits and protocols.
Protocols and standards
Most pork producers have realised the value of high animal health standards for their businesses. Therefore, besides being compartmentalised, many have depopulated their farms and restocked them with specific pathogen-free (SPF) animals. Not only do these animals produce better but require fewer vaccines and treatments. The advantages include that pork is more cost-effective to produce, there is less likelihood of residues in meat and there is a lower risk of antimicrobial resistance.
Biosecurity on pig farms is a set of protocols and standards designed to reduce the risk of diseases not present within the pig population from entering the pig farm, and also to prevent diseases within the pig population from leaving the unit and infecting other pig farms.
The basis of biosecurity measures is demarcating the biosecure unit with a physical barrier and then restricting access through the barrier. Accordingly, only essential people, animals and goods are allowed into the unit. Anything entering the unit is disinfected and its origin carefully controlled to reduce the risk of it carrying a disease into the unit.
Feeding of any swill is strictly prohibited. Swill is any leftover food from the catering industry, including restaurants, hotels, hospitals etc., especially if it contains any form of meat. Based on these principles, the following preventative measures are recommended by the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO).
Recommended biosecurity measures for pig farms:
- Fence the piggery effectively to prevent access by people and animals. If possible, prevent animals from being able to dig under the fence.
- Do not allow other types of animals or pets within the piggery fence.
- If visitors to the farm has been in contact with any pigs two days prior to the visit, access to the piggery should not be allowed.
- All visitors should be provided with overalls and boots before entering your farm. Upon leaving, these overalls and boots must be left on the farm.
- Do not allow people to eat within the piggery. Special care must be taken not to bring pork or pork products into the piggery.
- Ensure that all vehicles and goods brought into the piggery do not present a risk. Always disinfect vehicles and goods before they enter the piggery.
- Only bring pigs in from a piggery that has a known disease status. Such a piggery’s health status should be the same or better than yours. Never bring pigs from auction facilities into your piggery.
- Do not feed swill (dead poultry, poultry offal or animal offal). The use of vegetables does not present a risk, but feeding meat products to pigs is risky.
- Dead pigs must be disposed of in such a way that they do not act as a possible source of disease to pigs outside of your piggery and are not used for human consumption.
- Be vigilant and practise caution. If the possibility exists that doing or allowing anything in your piggery may pose a disease risk, rather err on the side of caution.
More formalised biosecurity measures, such as the pig compartmentalisation system, is applicable to commercial pig farmers, suppliers to abattoirs and exporters of pork products. This system is run in cooperation with the national animal health authorities. – Dr Peter Evans, veterinary liaison officer, SAPPO
More information can be obtained from SAPPO’s website: www.sapork.biz.