By Lorraine Stevenson-Hall
There are numerous factors that contribute to outbreaks of swine or poultry diseases, and we would be remiss to forget about the impact of labour shortages. While as a whole the Canadian pork supply chain was resilient during the labour shortages of Covid 191, the shortage of workers at the farm level continues to take a toll from an animal disease management perspective.
Cam Dahl, General Manager of Manitoba Pork, estimates that there is a 25% shortfall of workers on swine farms in the province. “It’s a big issue and we’ve seen the impact of it during the PED outbreak. It’s challenging to rigorously implement all of the measures to maintain biosecurity when you’re short a quarter of the workers,” he says. And, once there is an outbreak, control and elimination are that much more challenging because there the workforce is already spread thin.
“It’s challenging to rigorously implement all of the measures to maintain biosecurity when you’re short a quarter of the workers.”
During a recent presentation at Big Bug Day hosted by Swine Health Ontario, veterinarian Dr. Cathy Templeton said, “Innovation that makes ‘doing the right thing’ easier, cheaper or better, will get us much further than doing the same thing more intensely.”2
Strengthening biosecurity is always well-advised, but doing the same thing more intensely will only get us so far. And, it appears that the issue is not going to get better anytime soon, says Dahl. “Labour shortages have been an important factor in the on-going outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) in the province, especially once you get to a level of infection that is that much harder to control,” he says. In fact, labour shortages have lengthened the time it took to move a farm from a confirmed infection through the process of eliminating the disease.3
“Innovation that makes ‘doing the right thing’ easier, cheaper or better, will get us much further than doing the same thing more intensely.”
As of November 30, 2022, a total of 327 cases of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PEDv) had been confirmed at 184 farm premises in Manitoba. Cam Dahl, General Manager of Manitoba Pork, says that recently two more additional barns have been added to the list of infected premises.
The good news is that with this challenge there is opportunity for innovations in biosecurity. So instead of doing the same thing more intensely, how can we use innovation, as advised by Dr. Templeton, to make biosecurity easier, cheaper or better?
One solution is biosecurity management software like Farm Health Guardian. The system helps mitigate these challenges by offering automated visit approvals, validation of biosecurity compliance, downtime planning and more. Protect your farm, employees and your bottom line. Visit our website to learn more.