Danish Pig Industry Steps Up Biosecurity

DENMARK - Strict border biosecurity is ensuring that Denmark is keeping African swine fever and other major pig diseases out of the country.
calendar icon 25 November 2014
clock icon 4 minute read

And to ensure that the country maintains the highest biosecurity to reduce the risk of a major disease outbreak, veterinary and farming authorities have introduced a system to combat seven major pathogenic pig diseases.

The specific pathogen free system that is overseen by the health status department of the Danish Pig Research Centre has been put in place in more than 3,100 pig herds in the country and covers 75 per cent of the sows.

The SPF system covers the core diseases of mange, lice, swine dysentery, atrophic rhinitis, pleuropneumonia, enzootic pneumonia and PRRS.

But the biosecurity measures that are taken also mean that other diseases that Denmark has not seen for many years such as classical swine fever, African swine fever and foot and mouth disease are also monitored and kept out of the national pig herd.

Biosecurity measures within the country include visits and tests for 270 breeding herds in the country from the official vets and further visits and tests from local vets for the production herds.

All the 11 million pigs that are exported from Denmark each year come from SPF herds.

To ensure that diseases are not imported into the herds, the system monitors not only breeding animals and weaners but also other factors such as wind borne pathogens, tools and equipment feed, staff biosecurity, rodent and bird levels as well as trucks.

Bent nielsen danish pig research centre
Dr Bent Nielsen Danish Pig Research Centre

“The system has all the data about the farm and shows what the disease risk is on the farm and the disease status of the farm,” Bent Nielsen the head of SPF Health Control and the Pig Diagnostic Lab at the Danish Pig Research Centre told the International Pig Seminar at Agromek in Herning Denmark.

The biosecurity system not only ensures thorough cleanliness on the farm but also between the farm and visitors – especially trucks coming onto the farm to transport pigs.

The system enforces a strict regime of separation between the truck staff and the farm staff and all trucks and the areas of the farm are disinfected to prevent the possible spread of disease.

The system also uses some special trucks that are sealed and have a Hepa filter to filter the air inside while the pigs are being transported especially through areas that may have disease risk – such as African swine fever in Poland.

To prevent the spread of African swine fever into the country, all trucks that cross the border from Germany have to be disinfected and any pigs that come into the country have to go into quarantine for at least six weeks and blood samples taken.

The trucks that come in from areas of high disease risk, such as Poland, are not allowed on to Danish pig farms for 48 hours after they have been disinfected and to ensure that disease particles do not adhere to the trucks in biofilms during freezing weather, the disinfection is carried out in heated conditions.

The veterinary authorities disinfect 22,000 vehicles annually at a cost of €1.3 million.

“We spend this money because we know it is the primary barrier for the introduction of disease into the Danish pig herd,” Dr Nielsen said.

The border checks also include checking the GPS systems on the trucks to monitor where they have travelled and what the disease risk is.

Last year, Denmark exported 2.5 million weaners to Poland and had 244 transport journeys to Russia and 143 to Lithuania - centres for African swine fever.

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