Measures to keep disease at bay on new pig unit



PIGS producers who fail to quarantine new stock for at least three weeks are not only jeopardising the health status of herds but are compromising their business productivity and profitability, warns a pig vet. Isolating new pigs is a must, and more so now than ever as routine use of antibiotic is discouraged and diseases become harder to treat. Bob Stevenson has been overseeing the introduction of Welsh Pigs to the new pig unit at Glynllifon College, a Farming Connect Innovation Site near Caernarfon. These were isolated from the existing herd for three weeks and another three weeks was spent integrating those pigs with additional pigs sourced from Rattlerow. During a Farming Connect open day at Glynllifon, Mr Stevenson said it took a number of simple measures to keep disease at bay, and these centred on good hygiene and biosecurity controls. “When farmers get a disease outbreak after they have brought in pigs, they are often puzzled by the source. They must understand that there is no spontaneous generation of disease on a farm, disease arrives because it is brought in on hoof or on vehicle transport or often on footwear as a result of poor biosecurity. “Pigs are carriers of viruses and bacteria and the stress of transport and a new environment may make them either reveal signs of disease or excrete the bacteria or viruses. “If you are involved with high health pigs you need to take particular attention with isolation and integration. They may be especially vulnerable and are likely to get infected from pigs that are already present on your unit. “Putting a physical barrier in place to prevent vehicles and people without the right biosecurity clothing from coming into contact with pigs. The barrier tells people visiting the farm that you can go this far, but no further.” Incoming pigs should be isolated in a building that does not share air space with other pigs; if this is not possible, a field can be used provided there is a three metre barrier from the existing herd. “Don’t think it is done and dusted when you’ve isolated pigs!’’ warned Mr Stevenson. “There must be separate wellies and clothing for the isolation unit, or better still a separate person to tend to the incoming pigs. Muck from those pigs must remain in the isolation area. “When pigs are in isolation they should be observed twice daily. Glean information from those pigs with twice daily observation,” said Mr Stevenson. Pigs at Glynllifion are fitted with EID tags to monitor performance and sire and dam combinations. This information is used when making management decisions. The Welsh Government aims to double the Welsh Pig herd through a multi‐pronged campaign utilising genetic and technological developments. Project development officer Pat Stebbings said there would be targeted marketing of Welsh pork to offer Welsh farmers ‐ young farmers in particular ‐ opportunities to generate income from their farms. The project, which began in January, offers support in business planning, husbandry, health, biosecurity and marketing. Funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities ‐ Rural Development Programme 2014 ‐ 2020, the project adopts a collaborative approach involving a range of supply chain partners with a view of developing local markets and products and increasing the expansion opportunities for existing producers and supporting the establishment of new producers. For more information contact Tel: 01970 636565

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