As an expert running your own operation, large or small, you already know the importance of protecting your livestock from threats like disease. While it’s not present in Canada, African swine fever, or ASF, has been spreading around parts of the globe.
ASF poses a serious threat to pig farmers. It doesn’t infect humans and is not a danger to our food, but it’s deadly for pigs. It could spread easily if it enters Canada, which could mean losing many pigs and significant losses for you and Canada’s pork farmers.
To help ensure this disease stays far from your herd, here are seven crucial steps to take.
- Understand the risks
Review any risks that could expose your farm to disease and set up measures to manage them properly. Your veterinarian can provide advice. Some areas of risk you should consider include how you manage access to the animals, what you do with their waste and how often you clean equipment.
- Set up a safe welcome
When you add new pigs to your herd, ensure you choose respectable suppliers with established biosecurity practices. Isolate new animals for at least 14 days to lower the chance of spreading disease, and put proper fencing in place to keep out other farm animals, wild animals and people.
- Create a cleaning routine
Regularly disinfect and clean where animals live, farm equipment and clothing and footwear worn around the animals. Be careful about borrowing equipment – avoid it if you can and always clean it before and after use. Make sure you have proper sanitation practices in place for things like manure too.
- Limit visitors and know who they are
Keep a log of all visitors to your pigs and limit direct access to them when possible. Visitors should wear clean clothing and clean footwear, and follow the biosecurity measures you have in place such as washing hands before and after meeting the animals.
- Know what and how to feed
Talk to your veterinarian about the best diet for your animals. Make sure their feed is coming from a trusted supplier that follows proper biosecurity controls too. Be careful about feeding animals food scraps – this is especially important for pigs. Even if they will eat anything, food waste can be a way they contract contagious diseases like ASF that don’t infect humans but do harm pigs.
- Use a safe water supply
Water is essential for animals, just be sure it’s a clean, safe source. Avoid surface water from lakes or ponds because it can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites that could make your pigs sick. A deep well or municipal water line are typically the better options.
- Monitor animal health
Taking stock of your animals every day matters. Quick action to isolate and treat a sick animal can save the entire herd. Get to know common illnesses and their warning signs, from reddish skin to loss of appetite. If you notice any symptoms or strange behaviour, separate the animal and talk to your vet for accurate diagnosis and advice.
Find more information about biosecurity on the farm, and how to keep Canadian pigs safe from African swine fever, at inspection.canada.ca/asf-biosecurity