Pork production: How to keep disease off your pig farm


By Nan Smith | 16 February 2017
pig farm; biosecurity; pork; sows; feeding
A boar and his sows in an unconfined system with sound fences. A good fence goes a long way to biologically securing a farm.

A farmer takes certain steps and follows procedures to keep diseases off his pig farm through good biosecurity.

Diseases can be brought in from outside in a few ways: bought in animals may be sick without showing signs of disease, people who have been in contact with pigs may bring disease in on shoes, clothes and vehicles, and pig swill picked up from kitchens can be a high disease risk.

FOR GOOD BIOSECURITY PUT THESE MEASURES IN PLACE

• Keep your pigs safe behind a good fence and a locked gate
• Have a change of shoes, or overshoe covers, for times when off-farm people need to visit your animals. These would be vets, extension officers, vet technicians and so on. A useful alternative is to have a footbath to disinfect the gumboots of visitors. Disinfect working tools, ropes and chains.
• Visitor’s vehicles should not come near the pig enclosures or camps.
• Be very careful of allowing pig traders into the animal area. Pig speculators have been from farm to farm and could pose a very real threat to the disease-free status of your pigs.
• Buy new pigs from healthy droves or insist on a vet check before you purchase. If it’s possible keep the new pigs separate for two weeks until you are certain they are healthy.
• NEVER feed kitchen waste (pig swill) to your pigs if it contains meat – especially pork, unless it has been boiled for an hour. In fact, it’s better just not to.
• Clean water is essential and helps keep animals healthy with a good immune system. It’s better to have it piped in from a well, rather than from a river or dam.

pig farm; biosecurity; pork
Pigs are naturally clean animals and will choose to keep pens and confined areas clean if they have the space to do so.

PROTECTION AND PREVENTION IS THE BEST CURE

Even healthy pigs will have some germs and parasites that can cause disease, especially to young piglets. So it’s important to keep your pigs as clean as possible and to treat the adult pigs for parasites. Pigs are naturally clean animals; if they are given the space they will use one area as a latrine.

Pigs are naturally clean animals

If you slope the floor of the pen towards the entrance and put the water supply near the entrance pigs will choose that area as the communal toilet, and leave the rest of the pen clean and dry. If you remove waste regularly you can maintain a good level of hygiene.

pig farm; biosecurity; pork
This mother and her piglets enjoy the afternoon sun. Proactive biosecurity, including vaccination, makes it possible to have healthy, disease-free pigs.

Other measures include washing the sow’s udder just before piglets are born, disinfecting the navel and feet of the piglets with iodine after birth, treating the adults for mange, and de-worming them and vaccinating them against disease.

Biosecurity will protect pig farmers against outbreaks of dreaded diseases like African Swine Fever – something no pig farmer wants to experience.