British pig farmershave made a quantum leap in their defences against foreign diseases this year,reports the National Pig Association.
Most have significantlystepped up biosecurity measures in a bid to keep out African Swine Fever whichshows signs of becoming endemic in parts of the European Union, and highlyvirulent Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus in the States, Canada and much of Asia.
In a recent NPA survey,84 per cent insisted any visitors must be free from recent contact with otherpigs, with 43 per cent ensuring all visitors wear the units own protective clothes and footwear, and 24 per centinsisting visitors also shower-in.
82 per cent ofpig-keepers will no longer use imported breeding pigs from at-risk countries,with 69 per cent also banning AI semen from at-risk countries.
Three-quarters now havea barrier between their pigs and incoming vehicles, with 21 per cent allowingonly essential vehicles past the barrier, and 19 per cent not allowing anyvehicles past at all.
And every producer inthe survey insisted staff or visitors who have been to at-risk countries mustbe at least three days free from contact with pigs, with the majority alsoinsisting they dont wear any of theclothes or footwear they wore whilst abroad.
The results are takenfrom a survey by NPA of 66 pig units and show commercial pig producers have anincreasingly professional approach to biosecurity.
This supports thefindings of our regular dialogue with members about biosecurity, said NPA chief executive Dr Zoe Davies. Professional pig-keepers and we think most smallholders too are aware of the damaging impact of imported disease.
In the States, PEDv haswiped out over a tenth of the pig population in the past two years, causing upto 100 percent mortality in piglets when it gets onto a pig unit, and ifAfrican Swine Fever arrived in Britain from the Baltics for instance in imported pork products it would instantly jeopardise our growing exporttrade in high-welfare British pork.
But despite the highlevel of biosecurity awareness now evident in the British pig industry, NPAremains concerned about those pig units on the fringe of commercial pigproduction which are not represented in the survey results.
Our problem is thatwhilst NPA has good communications with commercial producers and the BritishPig Association fulfils a similar role with pedigree breeders and smallholders,neither of us finds it easy to reach those people who keep pigs but arent members of either organisation and thats our challenge for 2015.
There is concern alsoabout the proximity of people and other pigs, with over a third of units havinga public footpath or bridleway within 100 yards, and 18 per cent being withinhalf a mile of another pig unit.