With the lockdown in force in SA, most people are aware of the necessity to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus.

The biosecurity measures implemented on a pig farm are exactly that, but the “lockdown” is permanent, as the possible infections that could harm pig herds are varied and numerous.

The main reasons for having a good biosecurity plan implemented on a pig farm are:

  1. To protect your swine herds from possible infections that could result in disease and death of pigs, and ultimately, financial disaster.
  2. To ensure that the end consumer receives a healthy product, free from contamination and disease.  Some diseases can be transmitted from pigs to humans.

Main threats to a pig farm and the precautions required:

  1. Newly acquired pigs might carry a bacteria or virus, but show no symptoms.  For this reason, all new pigs should go into quarantine for at least three weeks before being introduced to the herd.
  2. Dirty vehicles containing organic material that might harbour bacteria or viruses.  These could be trucks from an abattoir that have not been washed or disinfected or feed delivery trucks that have not been disinfected.  Owners or managers of piggeries should not permit dirty trucks close to their piggeries and request that they get washed and disinfected before returning.
  3. People rendering services such as electricians and other maintenance providers. There is a chance they could bring equipment that has been in contact with other pigs onto your farm. It is best to question them first and ask that the equipment be disinfected before being used on your farm.
  4. Water from an open source such as a river can – at times – be contaminated with E.coli or other common infections that can cause illness in animals. It is good practice to test the water regularly for E.coli contamination. It is also advisable to get the water into a reservoir before using it as drinking water and to purify it via chlorination. Chlorination is one of many methods that can be used to disinfect water.  The best is to get an in-line chlorinator that adds chlorine as the water is used.
  5. Employees or visitors who have been in contact with pigs elsewhere or with fresh pork that is infected.  Ensure that employees are aware of the dangers related to contaminated pork, so as not to endanger your pig herd and put them at risk.  A shower and a set of clean work clothes before entering the piggery is the best way to ensure this.  We recommend that people be pig free for at least 48 hours before visiting a high health herd.

I once visited a pig farm in Canada. This farm had been a high health herd for over 20 years.  A few months before my visit, the owner had won a boar at a show and decided to locate it to his farm.  A few weeks later, the farm had a PRRS, which resulted in abortions and many piglet deaths – a huge disaster!  This one mistake cost him thousands of dollars.

Lesson:  Never compromise or take a chance!