Pig producers improve biosecurity

British pig producers have made huge progress in improving biosecurity and preventing foreign diseases, according to the National Pig Association (NPA).

A survey on levels of biosecurity by British pig producers, conducted by the NPA, found that 84% insisted any visitors must be free from recent contact with other pigs, with 43% ensuring all visitors wear the unit’s own protective clothes and footwear, and 24% insisting visitors also shower-in. Meanwhile, 82% of pig-keepers will no longer use imported breeding pigs from at-risk countries, with 69% also banning AI semen from at-risk countries.

The NPA said producers had stepped up security as a result of African swine fever (ASF) which shows signs of becoming endemic in parts of the European Union, and highly virulent porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv) in the US, Canada and much of Asia.

“This supports the findings of our regular dialogue with members about biosecurity,” said NPA chief executive Dr Zoe Davies. “Professional pig-keepers — and we think most smallholders too — are aware of the damaging impact of imported disease.

“In the US, PEDv has wiped out over one-tenth of the pig population in the past two years, causing up to 100% mortality in piglets when it gets onto a pig unit, and if ASF arrived in Britain from the Baltics — for instance in imported pork products — it would instantly jeopardise our growing export trade in high-welfare British pork.”

However, the NPA said it was concerned about smaller pig producers outwith commercial farms and not represented in the survey.

“Our problem is that while the NPA has good communications with commercial producers and the British Pig Association fulfils a similar role with pedigree breeders and smallholders, neither of us finds it easy to reach those people who keep pigs, but aren’t members of either organisation — and that’s our challenge for 2015.

“There is concern, also, about the proximity of people and other pigs, with over a third of units having a public footpath or bridleway within 100 yards, and 18% being within half a mile of another pig unit,” Davies concluded.

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