Biosecurity: Are You Prepared?

Biosecurity: Are You Prepared?

Are You Prepared?

Will you get a perfect score in this quick quiz? We challenge you in this issue of the Pig Improver to see if you are already taking the biosecurity action items you should be taking, or if you will learn something new about protecting both your individual operation and the industry as a whole. TRUE or FALSE?

Biosecurity is boring and static.


Biosecurity is exciting and dynamic. New research findings and technology developments are constantly moving biosecurity forward. For example, an online geofencing technology called ‘Be Seen, Be Safe’ is now being applied to pork and poultry sectors in several countries. It provides a secure way to instantly analyze farm visit data so that the correct farms can immediately be quarantined. It also prompts farmers to step up livestock monitoring and biosecurity protocols, and this can help prevent an outbreak from becoming a potential disaster. In Canada, bioluminescent bacteria is being used to show how pathogens are spread in a barn where biosecurity protocols are not carried out adequately. And lastly, the use of prefabricated barn entrance additions are being studied in France as a strategy to increase biosecurity compliance.

Your farm’s biosecurity is under constant threat.


“There are multiple potential routes for microbes to enter your farm on any given day,” notes PIC Director of Health for the Americas Dr. Jean Paul Cano. The probability that a disease will impact your livestock depends on how many microbes gain access, the ability of these microbes to survive (which depends on the type of microbe and the conditions under which it’s unknowingly transported), as well as your farm’s biosecurity level.

Since 2013, more than 12.5 million pigs have died from PEDv (porcine epidemic diarrhea virus), and several North American swine farms have been identified over the last two years as PEDv-positive with recurrent infections. There are many other pork industry infectious disease concerns, including swine dysentery, foot and mouth disease, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), classical swine fever, African swine fever, coccidiosis, porcine parovirus, and respiratory diseases such as pleuropneumonia.

Biosecurity works.


“Many scientific studies have proven that taking specific biosecurity steps reduces the likelihood of transmission of diseases such as PRRS, influenza, or PED. However, those steps must be imprinted as a ‘way of living’ for all stakeholders in today’s complex farming systems,” notes Cano. A ‘new normal’ has not been fully established across the industry. In addition, on every farm, the consistent commitment of everyone (owners, managers, and workers) is needed to create a biosecurity culture able to influence all aspects of production, from facility design and pig flow, to farm entry and truck loading.

You have a biosecurity plan, but there are still implementation opportunities.


Let’s take a close look at your operation. Cano notes that proper implementation of biosecurity involves the integration of four main components:

Risk assessment: Do you have an ongoing systematic search for any potential disease transmission opening? Do you audit routine processes to make sure they are being carried out properly? Do you make the investments that are needed? Do you have an ongoing education and reminder program for your teams?

Policy and guidelines: Do your employees understand that the program they are expected to follow, and the tools provided are science-based? Do you ensure the program and tools are practical and easy to understand?

Education: Do you consistently drive engagement and accountability by all members of your organization through timely and suitable training and retraining? Some operations have established a ‘biosecurity champion’ in each farm or flow, who disseminates information and keeps teams engaged.

Infrastructure: Are all equipment and facilities (trailers, loading chutes) or tools that can help mitigate risk factors (air filters, TADD systems) in place to ensure prevention of disease?

Without the appropriate implementation of the three previous components, investments in infrastructure are just wasted money.

You have not adequately built redundancy into your biosecurity plan.


The success of a biosecurity program depends on everybody making the right decisions all the time. Therefore, redundancy needs to be built into the processes to minimize failures.

Some examples:

Fleet segregation (by disease status or approach to terminal markets) is the most effective strategy to minimize risk via transport, but it is still important to wash-disinfect-dry-inspect all the vehicles, and ultimately to load animals with the assumption that trailers carry pathogens (that they are ‘dirty’), and using a transition load-out process that respects the ‘clean-dirty’ lines on the farm.

Another example of ‘multi-layer’ protocol redundancy involves people entering farms. One layer is to restrict traffic to only those essential visitors that are subject to downtime requirements. Additional layers include ensuring those people wear disposable shoe covers between their vehicles and the farm entrance, use a bench to remove their footwear, and fully shower before entering the farm.


“A highly competitive pork industry, societal pressure on animal well-being and antibiotic use, and the size and integration of today’s pig farms will continue to increase the need for healthier pigs,” says Cano. “Prevention of disease will continue to raise importance in the strategic planning of production systems. And although, the knowledge and technology exist, the key to success is the daily execution of the program: risk assessment, policy & guidelines, education and infrastructure. Consistent implementation depends on creating a biosecurity culture that is built with a logic plan, proactive leaders, engaged teams and timely adjustments.”