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Pig feed reminder over African Swine Fever concerns

UK pig keepers are being reminded to avoid feeding animals food waste and check their biosecurity measures to help prevent outbreaks of diseases such as African Swine Fever (ASF).

While there has never been a case of the disease in the UK, the risk level for ASF entering the country was raised in the summer following a spread of infection in Eastern and Central Europe.

Some of the outbreaks have been attributed to wild and domestic pigs eating contaminated pork products, prompting officials to remind producers that domestic or catering food waste must not be fed to farm animals.

“Viruses can survive in even cooked meat, which is why it is illegal to feed food waste to animals,” said Scotland’s chief veterinary officer, Sheila Voas.

“I would urge all pig keepers, large or small, to remind themselves of the rules and ensure that they are sourcing feed for their pigs in a safe and responsible manner.

“Other simple steps, such as limiting movements of people and vehicles in pig areas, checking pigs regularly and maintaining high standards of cleanliness are all also essential,” Voas added.

People should not take meat or meat products into areas where pigs are kept and should only eat food in designated areas such as staff rooms or the farm kitchen.

Pig keepers, farm staff and anyone in contact with pigs should also wash their hands before and after eating or preparing food.

Voas said ASF has been having a major impact in Eastern and Central Europe, making it essential that everyone plays their part in helping to keep disease out of the UK.

If it reaches the UK, the disease — which is fatal to pigs — would devastate the country’s pig trade and export markets, she added.

Penny Middleton, NFU Scotland policy manager, agreed the impacts of a disease like ASF could be hugely damaging to the country’s pig industry.

“The devastating loss of countless animals and the long term damage to important export markets would cripple pig production,” she said.

“Feeding kitchen scraps and catering waste exposes pigs to a risk of disease, in both commercial and pet animals.

“NFU Scotland urges all keepers of pigs, even those keeping pigs as pets, to resist the temptation to feed scraps to their pigs, including treats, and only use recognised pig feed purchased from approved agricultural suppliers.”

 


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