Share Biosecurity Plans with Manure Applicators

US - A little communication can go a long way when it comes to preventing the introduction of diseases when transporting manure from hog farms, an expert on biosecurity issues says.
calendar icon 12 August 2009
clock icon 4 minute read

Commercial manure applicators need to know what’s expected of them before and after they arrive on the farm, says Rodney B. Dr Baker, DVM, senior clinician in Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine at Iowa State University. "Everyone has become more concerned because of the costs of a new disease, especially in a pig operation where you have a lot of animals moving through the system," says Dr Baker. "Some of the diseases we face today can take out 25 per cent of your cash flow very quickly."

Studies have shown commercial farms can lose about $6/pig to diseases such as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS). Large producers, and especially integrated systems, can suffer the greatest loss, which often approaches $20/pig/year. Dr Baker offered basic ideas about how commercial applicators can protect their customers and themselves, urging applicators to “protect yourselves from a liability standpoint as well as your reputation.”

Dr Baker notes it can be difficult to determine the cause of disease outbreaks such as PRRS. Current estimates are that waste management removal may be responsible for only 2 per cent of the introductions. But even those rare occurrences can cause serious losses and damaged relationships.

Hog manure contains lots of gut bacteria, many of which are pathogens. Other substances include viruses, leptospirosis, parasite eggs, toxins and antibiotics. "Manure can contain 10 billion bacteria per gram or about 50 billion bacteria in a teaspoon of the material,” he says. “Roughly 50 million tons of manure or about 12.1 billion gallons are produced annually in Iowa."

Among the steps operators can take to prevent the introduction of disease:

  • Operators should not enter a farm building without contacting the producer first.
  • Wash and disinfect equipment between locations – all equipment, all of the time.
  • Avoid wind drift when applying nutrients – soil incorporation is safest.
  • Vehicles used to haul waste management equipment should be kept clean inside and out.
  • Always observe the farm’s biosecurity rules.
  • In situations where biosecurity risk is uncertain, obtain advice from experts.
  • Implement biosecurity training for employees.

"Communicate with your clients," says Dr Baker. "Demonstrate concern and let them know you want to work within their rules. They should let you know about any changes in the health status of their farms. You may need to change your workflow so that you handle the ‘hot’ areas last."

Pork producers should advise commercial applicators of their biosecurity protocols. "You should also have your own protocols to present to customers," he says. “These should be established before pumping season.” Suggested protocols should include building entry rules and emergency contact information for those involved with the farm operation, for example.

Between pumping operations, operators should clean the outside of their equipment – tractors, wagons and other vehicles – and anything, such as hoses, that will enter a building. Personnel should have clean coveralls and boots that can be cleaned between stops. Either of those items can be disposable.

"Biosecurity is extremely important in modern pig farms," says Dr Baker. Effective waste management biosecurity strategies, such as simple cleaning and disinfection, along with attention to basic rules can generally prove effective for waste management. Heat treatment and drying can also serve as an effective deterrent. "PRRS prevention is the biosecurity ‘gold standard,’" he states. "Recognize and prioritize risks and manage the controllable risks."

Dr Baker spoke at the Upper Midwest Manure Handling Expo, 22 July, in Boone, IA. The event, which was making its first appearance in Iowa, attracted more than 1,000 visitors, including individuals from 14 states and Canada.

As published in National Hog Farmer magazine.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on PRRS by clicking here.
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