Boost Your Biosecurity for the Best Protection

By Lorraine Stevenson-Hall, Biosecurity & Stakeholder Relations Lead

A recent series of five African Swine Fever (ASF) Action Week webinars hosted by USDA-APHIS, highlighted that biosecurity is still the strongest line of defence against ASF. Biosecurity is still your best defense against any disease.

You may already have an active biosecurity plan in place to protect your farm against disease, but have you evaluated it in light of the latest disease threats that are in your area? A mistake that many producers make is not matching their biosecurity plans to the most common diseases in their area, says Dr. Pablo Moreno, DVM, Swine Veterinary and Production International Service LLC.

An effective plan starts with a site-specific biosecurity risk analysis. Whether you already have practices in place, or you want to implement a basic plan, an analysis of the risks to your farm is a good place to start.

Risks come from both inside and outside the farm. External risks are events that could bring disease onto the farm, like pig movements and feed deliveries and how frequently those happen. Internal risks are activities that cause contamination within an operation, like handling of sick animals and manure management. The Pork Information Gateway provides basic questions to ask and help you identify risks when developing your plan.

Dr. Moreno recommends constantly evaluating your biosecurity through daily observation, plus a general overall assessment every six months. Here are four key areas to review1:

  1. Restrict access to your operation
    • Keep non-essential personnel out of your barns; allow entry for authorized persons only.
    • Gate all farm entrances and put locks on all gates and doors.
    • Use downtime charts and health screening questions to automate entry.
    • Keep up to date, accurate visitor records that include entry and exit of people and vehicles.
    • Digitize your visitor records for faster traceback.
  2. Animal health management
    • Monitor herd health daily for signs of illness.
    • Work with your veterinarian to ensure you have a response plan in place for suspected cases of reportable or contagious diseases.
    • Identify all animals and keep records of animal movements onto and off of your farm.
    • Isolate sick animals; conduct daily activities with young animals and healthy animals first.
    • Limit introduction of new pigs to the herd and have a plan for quarantining new animals.
  3. Operational practices
    • Make sure employees and visitors wear clean, dedicated boots and coveralls.
    • Anyone entering a barn should be required to shower in (and out if possible).
    • Ensure livestock haulers coming onto the property have washed, sanitized and preferably baked their vehicles between farms.
    • Clean and disinfect all vehicles and equipment entering and leaving the farm property.
    • Have a communication and action plan in place with your processor that is understood by all employees if disease is suspected.
  4. Plan, train and communicate
    • Conduct a disease outbreak practice run with your employees, veterinarian and anyone else authorized to enter the property.
    • Ensure that you have contact information handy, including for your veterinarian, producer organization, government agencies, your processor and insurer (if applicable).
    • Re-evaluate your biosecurity plan on a regular basis to identify new or heightened risks and areas for improvement.
    • Have clear, instant and easy to use communication methods to use with employees.

Need help evaluating your biosecurity? Farm Health Guardian can help. Farm Health Guardian is a new solution to restrict access, screen entry, and record movement of people and vehicles onto and off of your farm. It will give you greater visibility of your farm and ensure visitor and movement records are up to date, accurate and available quickly when needed.