Biosecurity Update by Mark Williams, Pig Nutritionist

28th October 2019

Biosecurity Update by Mark Williams, Pig Nutritionist

Regrettably, the adage "one man's sorrow is another man's joy" rings true in the global pork market. African Swine Fever (ASF) continues to devastate pig populations across Asia, Eastern Europe and continues its march towards new territories.

A disease of this significance inevitably brings the topic of biosecurity to the fore. All of us within the pig sector, be that producers, veterinarians and industry are fundamentally aware of the importance of good biosecurity. We often see that biosecurity can be focussed upon in times of global disease threat but old habits can slip back into place soon after. Ultimately biosecurity should be a pillar of management that is reviewed just as regularly as nutrition or breeding policies.

A key measure to bolster biosecurity efforts could be to appoint a member of the farm team with responsibility for biosecurity and perform a risk assessment to rectify any weak areas. Five simple and inexpensive measures should include:

  • Ensure staff and visitors do not bring any pork/pigmeat products on farm.
  • Provide a bell or a visible mobile phone number for visitors/delivery drivers to attract attention.
  • Restrict admittance onto unit only if visitors are over 48 hours 'pig clean' and sign visitors' book.
  • Entry onto farm should be via a single-entry point, where site specific clothes and approved disinfectant is available.
  • Keep vehicles outside the perimeter of the unit; if access is required disinfectant must be available.

While biosecurity is particularly topical in the context of ASF, it should always be a present factor in the farm management strategy. Put simply, poor biosecurity increases the chances of significant performance deterioration. Several research studies by Lee et al., (2005) and Kahindi et al., (2014) have shown that pigs weaned into poor sanitary conditions show reduced growth performance, a stimulated immune system and a heightened inflammatory response. These factors are especially detrimental to overall performance and FCE due to the nutrient competition between structural tissues and immune function.

Likewise, in a separate growth performance study, Jayaraman et al. (2016) showed that a room with poor hygienic conditions had higher ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) (26.65 vs. 18.17 ppm) concentrations than a clean and disinfected room (0.099 vs. 0.010 ppm). The deterioration in air quality was shown to have caused added respiratory stress and a reduction in feed intake. This subsequently effected gut morphology and increased incidences of looseness/ diarrhoea. The culmination of these studies demonstrates that maintaining high hygienic standards in the nursery is critical for optimal performance of piglets partly because of its effects on gut health and function - all the more important in a life with reduced antibiotic usage and without Pharmacological Zinc Oxide.

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