As we forge into the fall months of 2011, battling high feed costs, addressing animal welfare concerns and tackling environmental matters are all issues struggling to take top priority with today’s pork producers. High on that list of priorities needs to be biosecurity protocols for individual facilities and production flows as we move into the winter months. Biosecurity can be defined as procedures, efforts and programs established to reduce the risk of disease introduction in to pig populations (Conner, 2001). Both external and internal biosecurity protocols need to be reviewed for their effectiveness in keeping out new agents and minimizing the disease challenge present within a barn or herd.
Biosecurity and sanitation practices are implemented on many pork production units to prevent the introduction of pathogens to the herd or groups of pigs within a herd (Amass, 2001). A disease challenge such as salmonella, influenza, mycoplasma and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) not only affects the health and productivity of the herd, it also diminishes employee satisfaction with their job and decreases the profit margin for the producer. PRRS is an economically significant disease of swine that has been estimated to cost the US industry approximately $560 million a year (Dee, 2010). It is also a disease that can flourish in the winter months, causing concern for pork producers. Preventing and controlling the spread of diseases such as PRRS, within and between pig populations is critical to the success of producing high health pigs and is the basis of biosecurity programs.
Biosecurity is a complex concept compiled of various protocols, theories and management procedures. Implementing and reviewing some of the procedures discussed below will put you on the right track for producing high health pigs and proper utilization of biosecurity protocols. As you evaluate your biosecurity program for effectiveness and impact you need to look at both direct and indirect routes of contamination.