What is biosecurity on a farm?
Farm biosecurity is a group of measures which aim to prevent or minimize the transmission of infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites on or between farms.
The goal of a successful biosecurity strategy is:
- to prevent the entrance of new infectious agents into a herd
- to manage the spread of agents which are already endemic.
Modern pig farms emphasize biosecurity as one of the main strategies to reduce the spread of disease among pigs.
Why is biosecurity important for pig farms?
Careful attention to biosecurity is essential for the health of farm animals. Most modern pig farms use intensive farming, with large numbers of pigs in close contact in facilities. Such farm conditions can promote the spread of disease, thus making biosecurity measures essential.
Farm biosecurity is also important for curtailing the use of antimicrobial drugs. Herds with good biosecurity levels have healthier animals which less frequently require antimicrobial treatment. This is important, as the inappropriate use of antimicrobials in farms is among the main contributors to the development of antimicrobial resistant pathogens.
What can I do to improve the biosecurity of my farm?
Adopt strict “all-in-all-out” policies
“All-in-all-out” is a farm management technique which organizes animals in batches which stay together throughout the various production phases. Batches are moved from one farm site to another or from one part of a facility to the next. Facilities must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between batches.
Use a multi-site production system
Multi-site pig farming is a system which localizes the various production phases onto separate farm sites distant from one another. Batches are moved to the various farm sites following an all-in-all-out strategy.
Avoid pig mixing
All unnecessary pig mixing should be avoided. Batches must be kept separate from each other, and all pigs should be moved together with their batch, never leaving tail-enders, runts, or slower growing pigs behind to be mixed with the following batch.
Careful management of the introduction of breeding stock
One of the most common ways for pathogens to arrive on a farm is through the introduction of new animals from other herds. All new breeding stock should come from herds with a known health status. Such animals must be quarantined and given an acclimation period to reach a similar immune status for diseases as pigs already present on the farm.
Management of farm workers and visitors
Farm workers represent an important vehicle for the transmission of pathogens within different sectors of a farm. Workers should shower and change clothes before entering the farm. Workers and visitors, such as farm veterinarians, should wash and disinfect their hands and be provided with personal protective equipment which should be changed when entering different areas of the facility.
Hygiene and control of vehicles entering a farm
Vehicles such as feed trucks or animal transport lorries can act as passive transmitters of pathogens between farms. Such vehicles should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before being permitted onto farm premises.
Rodent and pest management
Rodents and pests can transmit infectious agents. Therefor a pest control plan should be adopted.
Biosecurity is one of the most important management aspects of modern pig farming. An appropriate biosecurity plan will improve the health of pig herds and is key to reducing the use of antimicrobials on farms.
Neumann EJ, Hall WF. (2019) Disease Control, Prevention, and Elimination. In Zimmerman JJ, Karriker LA Ramirez A, Schwartz KJ, Stevenson GW, Zhang J. (Eds). Diseases of Swine, 11th Edition Ames, Blackwell Publishing. pp 123 – 157.