The health and well-being of the swine that farmers care for daily is their top on-farm priority. The spread of infectious diseases and viruses results in decreased production on the farm and increased mortality. This diminishes the bottom dollar for farmers and greatly increases their workload. Major battles with diseases and viruses have caused producers to question the efficiency of their biosecurity programs and many have since added additional protocols and measures to strengthen overall biosecurity on their facilities.
On-farm biosecurity is our first line of defense against diseases and viruses and should never be ignored. Highlighted here are some of the important biosecurity measures that should be used by producers. Anything that can be done to prevent the occurrence and spread of diseases and viruses is well worth the time and effort.
- Vehicle movement from farm to farm presents a major opportunity for the transmission of an infectious disease or virus. Producers are wise to take every precaution concerning all vehicles entering their farm and ask that they be thoroughly washed, cleaned, and disinfected. Some producers go so far as insisting that trucks entering their facilities be on their first trip for the day and not coming from another swine facility where they could possibly bring contamination.
- Anytime new swine arrives at a facility, there is a risk of transmission of an infectious disease or virus. New swine arriving should be quarantined immediately. Producers should only accept swine from a reliable source that can validate their health. Once the swine have been quarantined, producers then have the opportunity to assess their health for themselves and make necessary adjustments. Most producers in North Carolina receive swine from minimal sources and have complete knowledge of their origin; however, this does not lessen the producer’s responsibility for monitoring their health.
- Physical barriers prove to offer a notable defense against infectious diseases and viruses. Swine facility locations with open sides should consider the addition of physical barriers. They can assist in minimizing on-farm rodents, human traffic, and wild animals such as feral hogs. There are many species of animals that have the capability of becoming contaminated with viruses and infectious diseases that can in turn spread to swine.
- Probably most importantly, is reducing the number of visitors to your swine facility to a bare minimum. When visitors must come, they should be given and follow specific instructions concerning entry and producers must make sure the instructions are followed.
Having biosecurity policies in place in very important, but what is more important is how consistently they are carried out on a daily basis on the farm. Producers will strengthen the health of their animals and the swine industry as a whole if biosecurity is a top priority each and every day.
Max Knowles is an extension agent specializing in livestock with the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center and can be reached by calling 910-592-7161.