Lessons From The Pig Industry

Improved biosecurity and disease management could lead to higher performance and lower antimicrobial use for you. Carolyn shares some lessons we can learn from the pig industry

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Carolyn Baguley MA VetMB Cert AVP (Cattle) MRCVS shares some disease management and biosecurity lessons that we could learn from the pig industry.

I’m no pig expert, but recently I was reading a summary of some research from the pig world that I thought
we could learn from.

The study aimed to describe, across four European countries (Belgium, France, Germany and Sweden), the profile of farrow-to-finish farms that are capable of achieving both high performance and low antimicrobial use.

No difference was seen between top (i.e. high performing herds using low levels of antimicrobials) and regular farms in terms of herd characteristics, e.g. herd size, farrowing rhythm, number of employees, education level of the farmer or number of years of experience. There was a difference, though, in disease management and in biosecurity. Top farms had significantly higher biosecurity than regular farms, both internally, with better management of diseased animals and better compartmentalisation of production units, and externally, with better biosecurity practices for personnel and visitors.

Have A Think About Your Biosecurity

How often do neighbouring animals escape into your fields (or yours into the neighbour’s)?

Are your adult animals kept close to young stock – how easily can bugs pass between them?

Do you wash and disinfect your boots and clothing before handling the calves?

Do you spread adult slurry on young stock pastures (or even worse, someone else’s slurry)?

And what about visitors (knacker men, feed wagons, vets etc.) – do you ask them to disinfect their boots, or their wheels, before entering the premises?

Pig farms are often far better at biosecurity than cattle or sheep farms, and have a lot to teach us. I’d be surprised if any of our clients asked me to have a shower before I entered the farm, but I wouldn’t mind more clients checking that I’d disinfected my boots and waterproofs before each visit!

Improved biosecurity and disease management could lead to higher performance and lower antimicrobial use for you – better for your animals, your pocket and for society in general!

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