The #Muckfreetruck campaign must apply as much to deadstock vehicles as it does to livestock vehicles, the National Fallen Stock Company (NFSCo) has stressed.
Ian Campbell, a NFSCo director, said the campaign, launched by the NPA, AHDB, Red Tractor and others in May, was ‘hugely important’ for limiting the spread of disease organisms, whether they be endemic or notifiable.
“But that focus on livestock lorries should not minimise the other risk route for vehicles visiting farms – and that is the deadstock collector,” he said.
He noted that during the last big FMD outbreak in 2001 a lower risk assessment was allocated to dead animals as the virus transmission took place via an airborne route and ‘surprisingly, dead animals don’t breathe’.
“The same is not true for African Swine Fever which spreads its virus mainly by mechanical movement of faeces whether it be live pigs themselves or more likely residues on feet, machines, perhaps birds, flies, animals, people but certainly people and vehicles in direct contact with dead animals,” Mr Campbell said.
“There will be relatively few indoor pig producers who do not operate a perimeter collection procedure but it can be more difficult for outdoor producers to define a precise perimeter for the unit so that farm vehicles and boots don’t get contaminated by visiting services such as the deadstock removal. So although the pig industry is pretty good in its application of biosecurity it can never be 100%.”
He said NFSCo had been doing all it can to encourage collectors who work with it to continually improve standards of biosecurity now that the threat of ASF has grown so significantly.
“The probability is that the virus will enter the country in pig meat of one form or another and NPA are doing their level best to stimulate Border Agencies to take whatever practical steps can be taken to minimise that risk,” Mr Campbell said.
He added that if all steps fail and the virus does make its way into the country, the next phase in which the movement of the virus is detected and the spread checked will require rapid notification of deadstock vehicle movement to APHA. NFSCo has been taking steps to facilitate this.
“Some time ago all live pig movements moved from paper records channelled through Trading Standards were captured in real time via AMLS enabling vets to move quickly to limit spread; currently all deadstock movement is still recorded by paper-based means, slowing down the speed at which steps can be taken to control the movement of the virus,” he said.
“At NFSCo, work has been taking place to replace the paper with electronic recording and that development will reach fruition this summer when new IT becomes available for collectors of deadstock to take advantage of.
“It is in the interest of every single pig producer to encourage their collector to take advantage of the new IT systems when available so that if, God forbid, our defences fail, we can stamp out the virus as quickly as possible.”