Stop sign alerting visitors that they are entering a disease prevention area outside of a hog barn.

Don’t paint your farm red

A disease impacting a swine operation puts that producer on high alert, as well as neighboring producers, lest the disease spread to their operations.

Manitoba pork producers have recently been reminded of how quickly porcine epidemic diarrhea virus can spread within a production system and within a geographic area. Since April 29, 10 farms have broke with PEDV, six of which are in one geographic area (defined as within a 5 kilometer area), according to Glen Duizer, animal health veterinarian with Manitoba’s Chief Veterinary Office. Of those six, two were farrowing sites and the other four are finishing sites. Duizer says there are 33 other premises within that same 5-kilometer area, so heightened awareness is necessary to keep the virus from spreading. He adds that this area is close to an area that broke in spring of 2016.

Three farms (two farrowing, one finishing) in a second geographic area have also broke this spring. There 12 other operations within this geographic area, four of which are sitting idle. This area previously broke in the fall of 2014 and fall of 2016. Another premise outside of each of these two mentioned geographic area broke with PEDV, but it had direct animal movement from one of the sow barns in the second area, before that sow barn showed clinical signs. “So that direct animal movement likely sent infected pigs to it,” Duizer says.

Mark Fynn, Manitoba Pork’s manager of Quality Assurance and Animal Care Programs, says along with heightened awareness of the crisis at hand producers need to adhere to and reinforce their individual farm biosecurity protocols.

Fynn joined Duizer on a Telephone Town Hall on Friday that was hosted and organized by Alberta Pork in conjunction with Manitoba Pork. (An audio link of the Town Hall will be available online in the near future.)

“Someone once told me to think of everything outside of your farm as being covered in red paint,” Fynn says. “You want to keep as little amount of that red paint from coming into your farm.”

Keeping red or even pink paint from coloring your operation is closely tied with everything that enters or leaves your farm gate. Hog farms are hotbeds of traffic zones for employees, pigs, feed trucks, dead removal, service providers and manure haulers, just to name a few. Fynn suggests that biosecurity protocols need to be practiced by every person who may be entering the farm yard, whether they are an employee or an outside vendor. Manitoba Pork has a website with a variety of information and resources to help producers in getting their PEDV knowledge and biosecurity plan in order.

“Pig movement is a big area,” Fynn says, “it’s important to have a clean, disinfected and dry trailer. A lot of times the drying part is left out.” Fynn stresses the same precautions need to be taken with the trucks that will be used for loadout. “Are we also making sure that the equipment that we use at the loadout are also cleaned” in case they became infected from the loadout trailer.

Though not always practical, Fynn says it’s ideal to have separate entrances to the farm for any traffic that is not dedicated for the farm itself, i.e. the feed trucks, pig trucks, supply deliveries use a different driveway than employees use. If nothing else, producers should attempt to minimize the cross traffic.

If that is not possible, Fynn suggests measures that can minimize the amount of harmful pathogens coming onto a farm. He recommends the use of hydrated lime as part of a controlled access, and enough of it to allow vehicle tires to be coated when driving over the lime. “You want to be careful when handling this,” he says, “you don’t want to breath it and it has to be dry for it to work.”

A sign by the driveway stating the farm is a biosecure area for health reasons, is a good warning, but it may not be effective if it is ignored. “You may need to put up more barriers to prevent easy access” to the farm, Fynn says.

He has seen some producers install disinfectant pumps at the end of the driveway, but he says some of those products need at least five minutes of contact to be effective, and that’s five minutes that not all delivery drivers are willing, or remember, to take. “Biosecurity is not convenient,” he says. “It has been said that it’s not biosecurity if it’s not inconvenient.”

A producer asked during the question-and-answer session of the Town Hall if the recent PEDV prevalence can be traced to the loads of Canadian hogs leaving for U.S. destinations. Duizer says the Canadian swine industry is taking a collaborative, multifactorial look at how PEDV came to infect these herds, but put the onus squarely back on individual producers and their respective biosecurity protocols. “Any source can put it (PEDV) in the yard, but it won’t put it in the barn,” Duizer says.

Good biosecurity protocols should be in place, and practiced, obviously during the time of a disease break, but they are also important to be practiced during times of high herd health.

Take advanced measures to keep the “red paint” off your farms, and as a result keep the red ink off your balance sheet.

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