Manure Management for Biosecurity
The potential for disease transfer due to manure handling equipment moving among manure storages or farms should not be overlooked. If a producer operates their own pumping equipment, they will know if PEDV or other diseases are a risk on their farm and should be able to take extra precautions to avoid spreading the disease to other facilities or farms that they own.
If a custom pumping crew is handling a farm’s manure, communicating clearly up front to convey expectations and concerns to them is key for the farm owner or operator. A producer should feel free to ask them where they’ve been prior to coming to their site and discuss their expectations related to biosecurity. It’s best to be present when they show up to pump so that the area where they should travel, protective clothing they should use, and methods for cleaning equipment before and after pumping can be conveyed.
Custom manure haulers have the opportunity to be very proactive about biosecurity, too. If a producer doesn’t offer up information about their biosecurity practices and requirements, it’s a good idea to ask what they require of visitors to maintain their farm’s biosecurity. Be prepared to tell them where you’ve been, when you were there, how you cleaned and disinfected equipment, and what the disease status of previous sites might have been. Confirm the owner’s preferred routes for you to enter and exit their site, ask where their line or lines of separation are, and wear protective coveralls, boots, etc. that you can leave at the site when you depart. And finally, you should have a protocol in place for cleaning and disinfecting equipment between sites, which may include some scheduled downtime for equipment to ensure that disease-causing organisms are not persisting in or on equipment.
It is important for livestock and poultry producers to have an established working relationship with a veterinarian who is familiar with their farm and herd and can help assess health issues and biosecurity needs. Swine producers who have been certified through the Pork Quality Assurance Plus Program should recall that a great deal of emphasis is placed on having a Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship, or VCPR, as part of the herd health plan. The Beef Quality Assurance program has similar requirements.
Another way to manage a farm biosecurity program is to focus primarily on controlling for diseases that have been identified in a region. PEDV is a good example of this, but when a producer or veterinarian becomes aware of any disease that has been confirmed nearby, it could be important to begin working to specifically address this potential biosecurity threat.
Most producers probably do not go very long without visually checking on their animals. Frequent assessment of livestock and poultry is a good way to detect health issues early so they can be addressed right away. When a sickness is identified or suspected, it is important to isolate the animal or animals quickly and address any potentially vulnerable animals at that same time.
Herd health records are more than just a good idea…they’re part of livestock quality assurance programs because they can help producers identify health issues quickly, recognize trends in disease movement, and help producers and veterinarians focus efforts on addressing health issues right away.
Finally, vaccinations are important not only for the animals but for workers who spend time around the livestock. Although there are not many disease strains that can be passed between workers and animals, there are a few and just maintaining good overall health for both workers and animals through scheduled vaccinations is important.
There are a number of resources available to help design and implement a biosecurity plan on different types of livestock facilities. A simple internet search will turn up sample biosecurity plans, written resources, industry-specific guidelines, and the like.
Swine producers should be aware of a USDA federal order requiring producers, veterinarians, and diagnostic laboratories to report all cases of swine enteric deltacoronaviruses (which includes PEDV and porcine delta coronavirus (PDCoV)). Once a herd or premises is confirmed to be affected by these viruses, the owner must work with a veterinarian or state animal health officials to develop and implement a herd or premises health management plan to address the virus and prevent its spread. In addition to the federal funding that is available to help with developing these herd health plans, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association has set aside funds to help producers develop herd health plans before these diseases are confirmed on a site.
The best time to work with a veterinarian to develop a herd health plan and begin utilizing practices to prevent diseases on the farm is before a disease outbreak occurs. A local veterinarian or Department of Agriculture Veterinary Field Officer is are good resources for helping a producer develop a farm biosecurity or herd health plan. The National Pork Board releases regular updates on PEDV, which include findings from research projects that are on-going. There is also a PEDV Resources page on the National Pork Board’s website with information about biosecurity and a number of other related topics, including Pig Health Management.