Decontaminate: Five Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Pig Herd

Semi hauling pigs
( National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff )

Where you can’t have segregation, you must rely on decontamination, says Andrea Pitkin, Health Assurance Veterinarian with PIC. She recommends these five basic protocols to follow:

1.   Don’t use the same trailers for taking pigs to market that you use to bring in gilts. If you don’t have an option, Pitkin says you should adequately decontaminate and allow for as much downtime as possible. 

2.   “Make sure to audit the feed mills you use and have a very thorough understanding of their ingredient handling processes,” Pitkin says. “If you can’t hire someone who only looks after your isolation unit, make sure your day-to-day farm employees go to the isolation unit at the end of the day. Incorporate segregation and decontamination processes to keep your quarantine unit separated from the main farm as much as you can.”

3.  Work with your feed mill – understand where you are in the delivery schedule. Pitkin suggests you ask if you can be first in the schedule every Monday morning. “Of course, everyone wants that, but work with your feed company to understand where the truck has been locally.”

4.   It’s not just about feed. Think about your UPS driver and other deliveries to the farm, she says. “[It would be better to take] deliveries at the end of your driveway instead of having the truck come right up to your barn.”

5.   In regard to fomites, include diligent decontamination and downtime protocols when supplies come into the farm, Pitkin recommends. Maintain the shower area so people can shower properly. Also, “make sure the people who work on your farm aren’t going to other pig farms, or don’t have pigs at home,” she says. “That might not always be feasible depending on where you are and who’s available to hire, but look at where you can segregate and identify the best decontamination processes.”

Pitkin says it’s all about understanding which factors are low risk or high risk, depending on your farm’s status at any given point in time. “You’ll be better prepared by thinking through all the various routes of transmission and having a plan in place,” she says.

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