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China pig farmers ramp up biosecurity to slow ASF spread

Biosecurity at pig farms and feed mills in China is being tightened in an effort to slow the spread of African swine fever (ASF), according to a Reuters report.

Veterinarian doctor examining pigs at a pig farm. Intensive pig farming. Pig farm worker.

Biosecurity at pig farms and feed mills in China is being tightened in an effort to slow the spread of African swine fever (ASF), according to a Reuters report.

Biosecurity and cleanliness vary depending on the size of the farming operation, but Reuters reports that farmers are stepping up their biosecurity measures. In addition, some farms have added truck-washing and drying stations to disinfect vehicles coming to and leaving the farm.

With some farm owners disinfecting their pig barns daily, sales of disinfectants and cleaning agents is booming. Gluteraldehyde, a chemical that kills the ASF virus, has seen sales rise as much as four times since last year. The government provides disinfectants to many small farms for free.

Biosecurity best practices

If a foreign animal disease like ASF enters the U.S., the feed supply chain has potential for being a primary vehicle for virus movement, but so do workers and other people on farms and at feed mills. It’s much more likely that viruses will to be transferred from one farm to another as a result of biosecurity breaches.

Here are three feed mill best practices for reducing ASF contamination risks:

Hygiene enforcement

Hygiene control measures are critical to all biosecurity protocols. Enforcing diligent vehicle hygiene (spraying trucks) and monitoring the movement of feed mill employees who visit farms is critical. For example, drivers should wear and discard all disposable clothing at the farm. Personnel access to specified areas within the feed mill should be limited to reduce the potential transmission of biological hazards. 

Receiving and ingredient specifications

A key component of an effective feed mill biosecurity plan is prevention of the entry of hazards during the receiving of ingredients. A supplier approval process should include development and communication of appropriate ingredient specifications. In addition, the supplier approval program should have methods to verify that the supplier has effective programs in place to ensure ingredients meet necessary specifications.

Foreign supplier verification, ingredient holding times

The feed industry should take the verification of foreign suppliers one step further than dictated by the Food Safety Modernization Act and consider foreign suppliers’ biosecurity programs. The risk assessment of globally sourced ingredients should take into account the point of origin, distribution methods and associated supply-chain entities.

In response to the ASF crisis, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), for example, has updated its biosecurity guidelines to prevent the virus’ introduction into the feed manufacturing process.

View our continuing coverage of the African swine fever outbreak.

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