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Biosecurity on pig farms

Reducing the spread of disease helps maintain the health of your pig unit, reduces the costs of disease and maintains productivity. 

Biosecurity is the set of practical measures taken to limit the spread of infectious diseases, both within a farm and from one farm to another, or from elsewhere, e.g. the abattoir.

Ensuring good biosecurity throughout the entire supply chain is the first line of defence against exotic and emerging diseases, such as African swine fever (ASF) and porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv).

The most common method of disease transmission is direct pig-to-pig contact, with the highest risk of introducing a disease usually through infected stock.

How does disease spread?

As well as direct pig-to-pig contact, other methods that can spread diseases include:

  • Airborne, e.g. windborne spread from neighbouring unit
  • Mechanical, e.g. vehicles, machinery and equipment
  • People, footwear and clothing
  • Birds, rats, mice, insects and other animals (domestic, farm and wildlife)
  • Contaminated feed, water, semen, bedding, etc.

The method of transmission depends on the disease. Before disease can be transmitted, enough live organisms must come into contact with the pig.

Biosecurity involves minimising or diluting this risk. Hygiene, cleaning and disinfection are, therefore, integral parts of any biosecurity programme.

A biosecurity programme should form part of your herd health plan and you should develop a routine for reassessing the risks at regular intervals.

Further reading

Biosecurity resources