By Joshua Kato
Mulindwa, a pig keeper and breeder at NAGRC & DB says bio-security at farm level is the set of practical measures taken to prevent entrance of infection into a pig farm and control the spread of infection within that farm. Bio-security can be looked at in two ways; Guarding the farm from entry of disease-causing organisms and managing infection on farm to prevent transmission to other pigs in the farm.
Effective bio-security may not come for free; you will spend some money. For example, you need a perimeter fence around the farm to prevent entry of unauthorized personnel, animals, birds etc. You need to buy disinfectants, construct bathrooms for visitors to take a shower before accessing the pigs, buying farm attire for both workers and authorised visitors etc.
On the farm, especially for large farmers; you will need to provide different houses for different categories of pigs e.g. pregnant sows, farrowing sows, growers, cattle for example milkers, calves etc. All these will cost money. Therefore, a written bio-security plan is important and with it farm workers can easily implement bio-security measures with support of suggested structures. The size of the farm doesn’t matter most especially if it is not the owner managing the pigs on daily basis.
What to think about when drafting your bio-security plan
– Land area used for Livestock production:
Bio-security starts from selecting the site for construction of your livestock houses. Who is your neighbor? Are you near a forest that is inhibited by wild animals? Are you near an abattoir, a pork joint or pork selling restaurant? A pig farm must be isolated from people and possibly set in a location free from other pig producers. If your neighborhood has all the swine fever causative factors, your bio-security program will be very expensive.
-Management procedures; this is more about your strategies to avoid infections from crossing from one pig unit to another most especially in large farms. In such farms, it is necessary to provide a particular manager for particular pig categories because this helps ease control of movements from one house to the other.
For example, farrowing unit manager, Grower unit manager, Dry sow unit manager etc. These must always go through a bio-security check before crossing to other units.
This means, also equipment etc for a particular unit doesn’t cross to others. In small and medium productions, we must refrain from borrowing farm equipment, drugs, syringe and needles etc. Sick pigs must be isolated and newly introduced pigs quarantined for at-least two weeks before mixing with others.
-Transportation of pigs; Due to the absence of professional pig transporters in the country, trucks used for transporting breeding pigs are the same used for transporting slaughter pigs. Even during an outbreak, this doesn’t change. Also if unsupervised, transporters park near high risk places for example pork joints to have meals. It is your responsibility as a farmer to source and interview the transporter of your breeding pigs, make sure the truck is disinfected and the route of movement is followed with no unnecessary stopovers until final destination. When stopped at any police check point, please request the officers not to get in contact with pigs. Also try every effort possible to move pigs together with necessary documents to avoid delaying at check points.
– Buildings and structures: Every pig unit must have its own set procedures before access is allowed. These include a foot bath at the entrance. Do not leave open walls, cover with a net to prevent entry of birds and other small animals. When visitors access the farm, do not allow them touch pig house walls or pigs. The farm must be enclosed into a fence with one or more managed entrances.
-Consumable supplies and equipment; It is your responsibility to ensure feeds are sourced from a supplier mindful of your farm health. The supplier must explain to you what they are doing to ensure selling uncontaminated feeds to pig producers.
– Feeding restaurant remains may save you money today, but cost you your whole investment later. If you must do it, make sure that the restaurant does not sell pork!
-Pork from outside sources should not enter the farm. People attending to pigs should avoid visiting abattoirs and pork joints. This, though very important lies with trust of the workers. It however difficult to enforce since you cannot tie your workers on a rope.
-Owners, workers, veterinarians, consultants & visitors; the effectiveness of every bio-security plan depends on the commitment of the owner. Owners must not dodge bio-security procedures; they must obey every detail to prove importance to farm workers. You should also talk about the importance of bio-security with your workers always. In large productions, it is important that workers are well-trained farm residents. It is risky to have a farm worker who is also working at another farm. It is also risky to have a worker whose movements are unsupervised.
-You must be careful about veterinarians and consultants; they must go through a similar bio security process before accessing the pigs. Buy your own farm drugs and equipment, do not allow veterinarians to enter farm with their drugs and equipment. These must advise you on what drugs to avail before their next visit. Where possible, avoid visitors. Make every effort possible to prevent people from accessing your pig farm and if allowed, strict bio-security procedures must be followed.