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On-site biosecurity on pig farms

There are important considerations to make when avoiding the spread of disease on-site. This can include the way in which you deal with manure, fallen stock and vermin.

Use the information below to ensure you are following the most appropriate biosecurity guidance for your site.

Site considerations

Feed bins

  • Where possible, locate feed bins on the perimeter of the unit to prevent vehicles from having to enter.
  • Bulk feed pipes should be provided for use with all deliveries, rather than using the vehicles’ own.
  • Regularly empty and clean bulk bins, ensuring they remain watertight and dry.

Water

  • Water storage tanks must be clean, rat/bird-proof and lidded, where appropriate.
  • If the water supply is not from the mains, test it regularly for bacteria and contamination.

Bedding material

  • Store straw, shavings and paper bedding safely to prevent contamination by vermin and protect it from the weather.
  • Straw should come from a ‘safe’ source, i.e. not from where it might have been exposed to livestock or their manure.

Manure management

The following guidance covers all farm waste, e.g. manures, slurries, dirty water, wash water, feed and other organic materials.

  • Draw up plans showing the entrance, route and exit points for the farm staff/contractor to access the manure storage. This should, ideally, be separate to the normal farm traffic or areas used by farm staff.
  • Enforce the line of separation and educate contractors of its significance.
  • Contractors must not cross the line of separation and must not enter pig buildings or come into contact with any pigs.
  • Allow extra time for cleaning and disinfection of equipment used in manure spreading.
  • Ensure there are appropriate washing and disinfection facilities available.
  • Agree in advance the routes that will be used to transport manure to fields.
  • Plan how any manure spills, particularly on public roads, are to be handled.
  • Do not bring dogs, even if they remain in the cab.
  • Manure and slurry stores must be well maintained, leakproof and heaps should not be allowed to spread.
  • Enhance vermin control around stores as rodents and birds are potential carriers of infection.
  • The manure should be held as long as possible, and until the weather is warmer, to reduce the amount of virus present.
  • Covering the heaps can be beneficial.
  • If it is not possible to spread manure and all storage is full, seek advice from the Environment Agency on minimum requirements for short-term storage.
  • Manure stores should be completely agitated before application.
  • Follow all regulations applicable to spreading, e.g. nitrate vulnerable zones and Defra’s code of good agricultural practice for the protection of water, soil and air. If unsure, contact the Environment Agency.
  • Take particular care when close to watercourses, ponds, lakes, boreholes and springs.
  • Spread directly to ground and avoid equipment that will atomise or discharge at height, especially splash-plate-type spreaders.
  • Fully inject or incorporate into soil as quickly as possible. If surface applying without incorporating, do so when temperatures are warmer and there will be several days of sunshine.
  • Manage equipment and application rates to avoid manure boiling up in the injection slot and leaking onto headlands.
  • Avoid windy days.
  • Do not use land which is waterlogged, frozen hard or covered with snow.
  • Do not spread liquids on fields with subsurface or mole drains when soils are cracked.
  • Once completed, thoroughly clean and disinfect equipment. Ideally, do not use equipment on other pig farms for at least two days.
Read more about slurry and manure

Fallen stock

When limiting the biosecurity risks around fallen stock, it is important to consider storage, incineration and/or collection. For instance:

  • Any farm machinery, equipment and storage containers – either your own or a new replacement – must be scrupulously washed with detergent and disinfected at the perimeter.
  • All staff must adhere to biosecurity protocols.
  • Retain and file your collection tickets. The records of disposal of fallen stock must be kept for at least two years.
  • Dispose of deadstock promptly and correctly.
These must be:
  • Sealed, leakproof and lockable.
  • Easy to transfer carcases in and out of.
  • Big enough in capacity to cope should there be a disease outbreak.
  • Moved to the unit perimeter when used for collection.
  • Easy to clean and disinfect after emptying.
  • Cold storage optimised.
  • Separate from, but close to, the main production sites.
  • Located in a clean surrounding area – any spillage should be cleared up quickly.
  • Kept out of public view – be considerate of neighbours or the passing public.
  • Cleaned and disinfected after use. Ideally, use a teleporter/frontloader bucket.

This is the most biosecure and preferred means of disposing of fallen stock, as it removes the risk of external collectors approaching the unit.

Incinerators must be:
  • Approved by Defra and a licence obtained. Please refer to Defra’s website.
  • Located away from the pigs, on a hard standing, as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Loaded by equipment that is kept separate from the rest of the farm, or, at the very least, thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before and after use.
  • Managed by staff who change their boots and overalls and wear gloves when handling deadstock.
  • Fully documented. Incineration records must be kept.

If an incinerator is not possible, then you must work with your fallen stock. Use a collector who recognises the importance of biosecurity and cleanliness and discuss with them in advance how you would like them to collect your fallen stock.

Important considerations:
  • Agree on a collection point. This must be from outside the unit perimeter, away from live pigs.
  • Never allow your deadstock collector to enter the farm.
  • Ideally, the route the collector takes should not cross over any normal farm traffic.
  • If appropriate, establish a ‘line of separation’ and explain this to your collector.
  • Keep the surrounding area clean and clear up any spillage quickly.
  • It should have provision for cleaning and disinfecting equipment.
  • It should, ideally, be out of public view – be considerate of neighbours or passing public.

Incoming stock

  • When setting up contracts for deliveries of new stock – both breeding gilts and weaners – check the health status of the source before introducing them to the main herd. Get your vet to speak to their vet.
  • Isolate all incoming replacement breeding stock in suitable facilities. Ideally, this would be on the perimeter of the unit, operated on an all-in all-out basis and cleaned and disinfected between batches.
  • Where possible, use a separate, secure site, with separate staff and equipment. It needs to be at least 50m from the main herd accommodation. If staff are shared between facilities, enforce a shower-in shower-out policy and/or ensure clothing and footwear are changed.
  • Staff should start their work at the site with the known health status (usually the main herd) and end at the site with unknown health status (usually the isolation unit). This is of particular importance when restocking and upgrading the farm health status.
  • Work with the isolated gilts last so that staff can shower and be pig-free overnight before entering the main herd again.
  • Discuss and agree a suitable isolation and acclimatisation programme with your vet, taking into consideration duration (ideally 6–8 weeks), testing and vaccination requirements.
  • Ensure visitors are at least 24 hours pig-free after visiting the isolation unit before entering the main herd.
  • Provide separate vet and med facilities for the isolation area.

Vermin

  • Have an active rodent- and pest-control system in place; review the plan regularly and check that it is working. Red-Tractor-assured producers must have a rodent-control plan in place and review it regularly.
  • Keep the unit clean and tidy.
  • Control birds, where possible, for example by ensuring lids are kept on feed hoppers and that feed spills are cleaned up promptly.
  • Keep pets away from the unit.

For current best practice on rodent control, visit the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use website.

Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU): Code of Best Practice