To minimize the impact of serious disease on the swine industry, Alberta Pork has a new biocontainment plan that is available for all swine producers.
The biocontainment program was launched in conjunction with Growing Forward 2 last month and provides Alberta swine producers with $600 to develop a biocontainment plan with the help of their herd veterinarian.
“Biocontainment is critical for the overall health of the entire industry,” veterinarian Kurt Preugschas said during Alberta Pork’s monthly telephone town hall. “If we can limit the number of farms contaminated by disease through excellent biocontainment protocols, we will ensure the long-term viability of the industry.”
Having a plan in place prior to a disease outbreak can control and minimize the impact on the farm and prevent the spread of the disease to other farms. There are a number of steps in a successful biocontainment plan. The first is to contact a herd vet if you see something new or different, or if you suspect a new disease outbreak on your farm.
“An early diagnosis will give you the best possible chance to minimize the spread of the disease,” said Preugschas, who works at Innovative Veterinary Services in Red Deer.
Following the diagnosis, the producer and the vet will contact Alberta Pork, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, depending on which type of disease is identified. The veterinarian will then help the producer develop a farm-specific control plan to deal with biosecurity protocols for all movement of personnel on and off the farm. The plan also covers all pig movements to reduce the risk of spreading the disease to other farms.
“This is very disease dependent, but going to the slaughter plant and that type of movement could potentially be impacted and that will need to be addressed in your farm-specific control plan,” said Preugschas.
If any animals need to be relocated, determining possible locations ahead of time will reduce stress during the emergency situation. Any welfare issues related to the disease, a restriction of animal movement, or mass euthanasia will need to be covered.
Another key step is the epidemiology investigation by the herd vet into all service providers and suppliers.
“The goal is to identify the source of disease before any other sites are affected,” said Preugschas. “That may or may not be possible, but we want to minimize the number of sites affected so we can control the disease as an industry before it gets out of hand. I think PEDv is a great example of this in Canada. We have done a great job of controlling the disease.”
The next step is to contact suppliers, processors and tradespeople, so an up-to-date list of phone numbers for all these companies is required.
“I strongly believe that open communication and collaboration with neighbours and the industry is vital to the success of any biocontainment plan and ultimately, the longevity of our swine industry,” he said.
The plan needs to be accessible to all staff so they can find it in case of an emergency. The biocontainment plan goes hand in hand with the biosecurity self-assessment that Alberta Pork currently has in place. There is still funding available for this self-assessment, which helps producers assess their areas of risk, in conjunction with their veterinarian.
“I recommend an annual biosecurity audit done with your herd vet to prevent any disease introduction on your farm, so the biocontainment plans that we develop do not need to be put in action,” said Preugschas.
The key is to contact your vet immediately, he added.
“Don’t wait for an emergency. Make your biocontainment plan as soon as possible. We all know that if you have a plan, an emergency situation can be dealt with much easier than if you’re flying by the seat of your pants.”