Pigs - Biosecurity on Your Holding

Glos-old-spotYears of hard work and patient breeding of your cherished pigs can be jeopardised with one innocent mistake. When it comes to disease, pigs are no different to humans and can easily spread health problems when in contact with each other. Good biosecurity is a vital element in maintaining your pigs’ health and the long-term survival of pig keepers.

This month BPEX, the English pig farming organisation, has provided a list of simple biosecurity considerations that all pig owners should bear in mind when trying to keep their pigs healthy and stop the spread of infectious disease.


Pests can easily spread disease on a holding and, perhaps more worryingly, can travel between farms. Use appropriate pest control products and ensure that your holding is kept clean and tidy. Simply sweeping up spilt food and securing storage bins as well as keeping borders and grassed areas short can make your holding far less hospitable for rats, mice and birds.


Organisms can be carried in many food products;whilst these may not be a danger to humans, they can bedevastating to pigs. Both Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) andSwine Fever can be spread to pigs through contaminated food products. Strictlaws were developed following the 2001 outbreak of FMD; information on theseis available from Defra. Meat products are bannedfrom being fed to pigs and care should also betaken over the feeding of vegetable scraps – theymust never be sourced from any kind of kitchen, whether domestic or commercial.


If a supplier is delivering pig-related items to you, including feed and equipment the chances are they have been to another pig unit. Maintain distance between your pigs and the vehicle and driver – where possible, try to receive deliveries at the edge of your property.


Some organisms can travel several kilometres in air currents. Discover the location of pigs in your area by registering with www.pighealth.org.uk and viewing the interactive map. This will enable you to make more informed choices about the sourcing of stock, where you house your pigs and the preventative veterinary and husbandry measures you should consider.


It’s wise to secure your premises with fencing and lockable gateways to prevent unauthorised contact with your animals. This will help to protect against the introduction of new disease and risk of theft.

piglet-in-grassPREVENTING ESCAPE

Escaped pigs risk infecting any pigs they come into contact with and may also bring back new diseases to the rest of your pigs. They also risk picking up injuries. Ensure that your paddock fencing is strong, secure and cannot be undermined by pigs.


Make sure you know the health status of any new pigs, including borrowed boars and bought-in weaners and that it is compatible with your own pigs (your vet can assist with this). Suitable transport must be cleaned and disinfected before and after use. Quarantine any new pigs away from your own for at least 30 days, looking for any signs of ill health. Use separate equipment and clothing for the quarantine area. Do not return to the resident pigs without having a shower and changing clothes. Remember to keep floor mats clean in the car/truck.


It is illegal to bury or burn fallen stock due to the risk of spreading disease through the air or groundwater. Collection or delivery to an approved fallen stock collector, incinerator or renderer, or through the National Fallen Stock Scheme, must be arranged: www.nfsco.co.uk. Afterbirth and stillborn piglets must also be disposed of in this way.


When taking your pigs to market, livestock shows, slaughterhouses or any other location, ensure that your trailer is adequately cleaned and disinfected. Defra states that vehicles must be cleaned within 24 hours of unloading stock. Wheels, wheel arches and mud flaps must be cleaned and disinfected prior to leaving markets.


Discourage visitors if they have been near pigs within the previous two days. Supply clean overalls and boots for visitors and wash and disinfect after use. Ensure visitors know the guidelines over feeding scraps to pigs. Disinfectant foot dips for everyone’s use are advisable. Follow the guidelines on dilution and keep dips fresh. Consider displaying politely worded ‘keep out’ or ‘do not enter’ signs.


Article supplied by Pinstone Communications