Keeping pigs healthy is important to protecting food safety, public health and animal well-being. Disease prevention and mitigation requires four practices: preventive care, biosecurity, safe housing, and preventing and preparing for foreign animal disease.
Farmers work with veterinarians to reduce the chance of illness in animals and people through feed plans, herd health management plans, and safe and responsible use of vaccinations and antibiotics.
Besides diagnosing and treating sick animals and maintaining records, veterinarians help farmers:
- Prevent the introduction of viruses and bacteria that threaten the herd
- Enhance herd disease immunity with appropriately timed vaccinations and responsible antibiotic use
- Develop strategies to minimize disease risk through barn design, pig movement, vaccination protocols, herd health monitoring, disease surveillance and appropriate diagnostics
Pork Quality Assurance® Plus requires pig farms to keep records related to disease prevention and mitigation practices, including:
- Veterinarian relationships
- Medication and treatment records
- Medicated feed mixing
- Biosecurity checklists
- Visitor logs
- Needle and drug storage inventories
A biosecurity plan helps keep pigs healthy and reduces the risk of disease. These plans carefully manage access to farms of anything capable of carrying disease, including people, pigs, birds, wild animals, rodents, equipment and water.1 They also ensure that sanitary conditions are maintained in the barn and during transportation. These efforts also can help prevent disease from spreading from one segment of the farm to others, or farm to farm.
Today’s barns allow farmers to control access and better prevent the introduction and spread of diseases.2 Housing should:
- Keep the animals safe from harm from their surroundings, such as building structures, equipment or other pigs
- Keep out predators, parasites and vermin, which is vital to preventing pig injury and disease
- Provide a comfortable environment. For indoor housing, this means properly maintained air circulation and temperature-controlled systems. For outdoor housing, this could include insulated shelter and protection from temperature extremes
- Protect feed and water from contamination
- Prevent visitors from entering without following farm-specific biosecurity protocols
- Provide for animal needs and allow farmers to monitor them closely
Preventing and Preparing for Foreign Animal Disease (FAD)
The U.S. pork industry works closely with government officials to protect U.S. farms and the domestic pork industry from foreign animal diseases (FAD).3 The National Swine Disease Council is one of several industry groups focused on advising animal health officers and industry stakeholders on how to mitigate FAD threats. In addition, the industry is providing4:
- Research into disease transmission and detection in both pigs and feed ingredients, including development of diagnostic tests, creating pig sampling protocols and detecting viruses in feed ingredients
- Education, including providing questions pork producers can ask feed suppliers, FAD preparedness updates and consumer confidences information
- Preparedness, including stepped up border checks, biosecurity at exhibitions and enhanced surveillance by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
If a very contagious animal disease such as ASF, foot and mouth disease (FMD), or classical swine fever (CSF) is found in U.S. livestock, the pork industry has created a plan in partnership with regulators to limit the movement of animals and animal products in an effort to control the spread of the disease while providing opportunities to voluntarily prepare before an outbreak. The Secure Pork Supply (SPS) Continuity of Business Plan will help maintain business continuity for the swine industry – including producers, haulers and packers – during a FAD outbreak. For example, pork farms with animals that have no evidence of infection will be able to move these animals to processing or another pork production location under a regulatory movement permit.
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1 Pork Checkoff, Managing Herd Health for a Safe Food Supply. https://www.pork.org/food-safety/managing-herd-health-safe-food-supply/
2 Pork Checkoff, Preventing Foodborne Illness, https://www.pork.org/public-health/preventing-foodborne-illness/
3 Pork Checkoff, Foreign Animal Disease Resources. https://www.pork.org/production/animal-disease/foreign-animal-disease-resources/
4 African Swine Fever Update, July 2019. https://library.pork.org/media/?mediaId=524D62BE-8C77-4A9D-8BDD3EFDA8B06A9B