National Pig Association is polling pig producers onlorry washes at Britains abattoirs, with a view to publishing a league table.The association hopes when abattoirs see how they are rated against theircompetitors, the poorest performers will be encouraged to invest in improvedlorry-washing facilities.
Many pig producers and hauliers consider sub-standardlorry washes to be the weakest link in the industrys armoury against endemicdiseases such as swine dysentery, and imported diseases such as African swinefever and porcine epidemic diarrhoea.
Disease can be spread rapidly from farm to farm bylivestock lorries, unless hauliers are able to properly wash and disinfecttheir vehicles every time they deliver pigs to an abattoir. But washingfacilities at most abattoirs are reported by pig producers and hauliers to beinadequate.
Waiting times are too long because there arent enoughwashing bays.
Lighting is non-existent or inadequate for darkmornings and evenings.
Water pressure is too low, and detergent is notprovided.
Washing bays are too close, riskingcross-contamination.
During cold spells, when viruses pose the greatestrisk, the water supply can be frozen for days on end.
British pig producers are particularly concerned atpresent about the risk of foreign diseases entering Britain and spreadingquickly through a naive pig population.
There is a threat of the notifiable disease Africanswine fever being imported from Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania. Andin the States and Canada, highly virulent Chinese strains of Porcine EpidemicDiarrhoea are laying waste to hundreds of pig units.
Both viruses are harmless to humans, but they arefatal to pigs if they are carried onto farms on lorry tyres or on the boots andclothes of humans.
Early results from producer voting suggest theDalehead Foods recently modernised and now world-class abattoir at Spalding inLincolnshire will top the NPA league table with the best lorry-washingfacilities. But it is too soon to say which abattoirs will occupy the bottomplaces in the league table as producers are still voting in the poll.
Abattoirs may be reluctant to invest in modernlorry-washing facilities because they see it as dead money but this isshort-sighted. They rely on a reliable supply of British pigs, so it shouldreally be at the top of their agenda, said NPA chairman Richard Longthorp.
By committing now to improvements in lorry-washfacilities, processors have an ideal opportunity to restore their credibilitywith pig producers and take biosecurity a quantum leap forwards.
We need good lorry washing facilities which in turnwill encourage all hauliers to ensure their vehicles are thoroughly washed anddisinfected before they depart to collect another load of pigs.