If you see something, say something. That’s the guiding principal that Mike Doran, COO of Swine Genetics International, and managing partner of a 40,000-pig-per-year commercial swine operation shared with the crowd of people attending The Exposition live hog show in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 6.
Before the grand champion barrow drive, the National Junior Swine Association and Team Purebred youth organizations stopped the show for “Perspectives in Progress,” a panel of four industry experts led by Dr. Brett Kaysen, assistant vice president of sustainability at the National Pork Board. The panel’s charge: discuss biosecurity in the swine industry.
“Everybody in this room has a wide array of knowledge of understanding of what biosecurity means on their farm,” Doran said. “It takes us all working as a community to help educate one another in terms of what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate as far as managing how you move your pigs around, managing how you move around in your vehicle, clothing or shoes, and managing the health protocol within your herd.”
Five Steps to Follow
Dr. Daniel Hendrickson, DVM, said we have to make choices that are the best for the entire industry when it comes to biosecurity. He offered up five important steps compiled by the Iowa Department of Agriculture for exhibitors to follow when they return home from the show to prevent the spread of disease and to keep the U.S. swine herd healthy.
1. Disinfect. Disinfect your equipment, showboxes, brushes, shoes, etc. Then, let them sit for a while, away from where you house your animals.
2. Isolate. Isolate the animals that you return home with from the show.
3. Monitor. Make sure that they are not showing any signs of illness or disease.
4. Communicate. If you see something, say something. Communicate with your veterinarian if you notice any signs of health concerns.
5. Teach. Teach someone else about what you’ve learned and how you’ve handled the situation.
“Biosecurity is important whether we have a foreign animal disease or not, as we always have disease pressures in the United States and we need to do a better job with biosecurity and making sure we control our individual herds,” Hendrickson said.
In this together
“We are all on one team. A pig is a pig. The phenotype may be a little different, but a pig is a pig,” said Dr. Benny Mote, a swine Extension specialist for University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The panel discussed African swine fever (ASF), a deadly virus of pigs that is making its way through China and other parts of Europe and Asia now. Although the virus does not impact humans or the food supply, it would be devastating to the swine industry because there is currently no vaccine for this disease that almost always ends in death loss.
“If we get African swine fever, it’s going to turn all of our worlds upside down,” Mote said. “We need to pull together and go the extra steps needed to protect everyone.”
Doug Albright, a territory business manager for Zoetis Animal Health, said his takeway from The Exposition is the importance of continuing the communication on biosecurity.
“I grew up with biosecurity in the conversation,” Albright said. He operates Albright Swine Farm in Coldwater, Mich.
He discussed the steps he takes when it comes to biosecurity after attending swine shows or traveling for work between commercial herds. He encouraged exhibitors to consult with your veterinarian to develop or strengthen their herd’s biosecurity plan.
Kaysen pointed out that the attention to detail Albright described can make a big difference at the end of the day when it comes to biosecurity.
A call to action
Mote challenged the audience to start with one thing they can do today to improve their biosecurity practices and build on that step by step. Start with your footwear, he advised. Have different shoes for different barns, and if you travel overseas, consider buying cheap shoes and throwing them away before you return to the U.S.
Create a quality biosecurity plan and live by it, Albright advised. “If you live by that document, things will be in a better place.”
Hendrickson encouraged the crowd to go home and make sure their premise ID is right and to doublecheck that the premise ID is for the actual physical address of where those pigs are located.
“If a foreign animal disease gets into the U.S. or another disease flares up and gets more severe in the U.S., this is how they will be able to track disease and track where those animals were located and where they came from. That is going to give us the biggest success to be able to shut down any disease, quarantine it and eradicate it from the U.S.,” Hendrickson said.
Not too young to make a difference
“The industry needs the youth – we’re going to keep asking you to do the right thing, keep working on biosecurity and listen to the leaders before you,” Mote said.
Doran said it’s important to live each day like somebody’s watching over your shoulder.
“Think about the greatest mentor that you have in this business,” Doran said. “Every time you go out and spend time with your livestock, think about that person watching over your shoulder. Is that person going to be proud of what you are doing?”
Chris Danner, owner of Purple Power Boar Stud in Chalmers, Ind., attended the panel discussion and said it’s important to make more people aware of these health challenges.
“We will go home and detail our pickup, disinfect everything we took to the show and isolate animals we bring back to the farm,” he said. “I think it’s great to make people more aware. If ASF does hit the United States, how we’re bringing up our kids and how a lot of us here make our livelihood and incomes is more than at jeopardy.”
In addition to the panel, numerous events were held throughout the week to highlight the importance of biosecurity. From a reproduction and biosecurity clinic hosted by Swine Genetics International and the National Pork Board to Swientist Laboratory workshops organized by the Ohio State University to educational tools distributed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and this panel hosted by the National Junior Swine Association, Team Purebred and the National Pork Board, the week was full of fun, educational opportunities for youth to put knowledge into action.