Time to double up on biosecurity measures

7th June 2019

With the rapid spread of ASF across China, Vietnam and some European Countries and Dysentery appearing in Great Britain, it is vital we all make renewed efforts to increase biosecurity on our farms.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) describe biosecurity as "the prevention of disease causing agents entering or leaving any place where they can pose a risk to farm animals, other animals, humans, or the safety and quality of a food product."

As you can see from the diagram opposite, there are multiple ways in which ASF and other disease can get on to farm, so it is the responsibility of everyone visiting and working on the farm to ensure they act responsibly and work together to minimise the risk of contamination.

We have also provided a list of ways to mitigate the risk of disease spreading on your farm. Please also consider the risk of disease being spread through the likes of rodents, flies and birds. Practices that should reduce the incidence of contamination include:

  • Netting and bait traps - these will reduce the chance on entry to the farm
  • Feeders should be covered, spills of feed cleaned up immediately and open bags secured.
  • On a larger scale, please ensure a secure perimeter fence.

Water is another possible mode of entry onto the farm. If not from the mains, regular testing is important to assess its bacteriological quality - this is done by collecting samples and testing for a range of waterborne diseases. From an animal welfare perspective, please also test flow rates and availability from drinkers, as this can vary considerably from drinker to drinker and can have a significant impact upon animal performance.

Devenish suggest you appoint someone on the farm with responsibility for biosecurity and carry out a risk assessment. Requirements vary from unit to unit, but knowing your weak spots will allow you to concentrate on those as a matter of urgency.

Whilst this might seem like extra effort, time and money, this is something that should be the standard on your farm. Aside from the cost to treat the disease, if disease hits your farm, it could wipe out your herd, or if ASF reaches this island, it will mean that our pork cannot be sold outside of NI/ROI, so let's all work together to minimise the opportunity for this to happen.

For further information, there are many good sources online on how to manage biosecurity on your farm including from Teagasc, AHDB and QMS Scotland.

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