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Tailored biosecurity key to good herd health and profitability

Tailoring biosecurity strategies to the location, facility and labor of individual hog farms is key to maintaining herd health and profitability, according to a leading veterinarian.

Joel Nerem, DVM, of Pipestone Veterinary, Minnesota, told National Hog Farmer that pig producers — particularly those with indoor systems — have to make biosecurity a top priority for their business.

And he said differences in every business mean that biosecurity strategies should be specific to every farm and finishing unit.

“Biosecurity is simply making sure we’re doing all the right things at the farm level, which includes developing and following strict protocols,” Nerem said.

“Each plan should cover biosecurity protocols, testing and health monitoring procedures, treatment processes and record-keeping.”

At Pipestone sow barns, Nerem said biosecurity protocols include showering in and out, disinfecting incoming supplies, and washing and disinfecting trucks.

Replacement sows are tested at the source farm, then quarantined on arrival to ensure they are healthy before joining the barn. Inside barns, pigs are constantly monitored for signs of disease.

Nerem said another key element is to create a comprehensive health plan for every farm, which includes using having a robust vaccination strategy.

“Whether it is injections or vaccines we can deliver through the water in the nursery, to new intranasal vaccines for influenza, there are a number of options that can be tailored to fit each farm’s needs,” he said.

Taking an active role in preventing disease through good management practices, biosecurity and effective vaccination programs will deliver rewards for both pigs and producers, adds Nerem.

“The economics are there. Healthy pigs grow and perform better, and producers avoid the time and expense of treatments.”

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