Why a few difficult conversations are worth it

Lauren Dimmack is AHDB knowledge exchange health and welfare officer, working on various disease surveillance projects. Prior to joining AHDB she worked for Alltech and ForFarmers

You may have heard about the unwelcome flurry in swine dysentery cases appearing over the last couple of months – if you were able to escape the Brexit headlines.

Cases have been reported in several UK regions and, with the industry already on high alert for African swine fever (ASF), this highlights the fact that biosecurity is not as good as it should be.

If you are a member of the AHDB Significant Diseases Charter, you will have received notifications of the outcode and region of the outbreaks. The number of sites joining the charter is at its highest, which is a fantastic indication of the industry working together.

If the worst did happen and there was an outbreak of ASF or PEDv, we would be reliant on every person in every supply chain doing their bit in order to save our industry. When you join the charter, you’re doing your bit to protect both your own herd and others – it’s quick and easy to do through your Pig Hub account.

You will receive notifications of outbreaks and you will have pledged to inform AHDB of an outbreak on your unit. If you’re an allied industry member you can sign up and plan your transport to avoid the spread of disease. Any information shared is confidential to charter members. Email pig.health@ahdb.org.uk

Talking of allied industry, look out for our new lorry-washing campaign, #MuckFreeTruck, led by AHDB, NPA and the British Meat Processors Association.

We’re seeking the opinions of producers and hauliers on the challenges of keeping lorries clean. It’s all well and good having the best biosecurity practices in the world, but if you allow a dirty lorry onto your unit, even just briefly, you don’t know what unwelcome extras they are bringing in.

It may seem like a drag to refuse a lorry, particularly after a long morning of loading pigs, but the cost of a disease outbreak will be far worse. The campaign will be going live over the next few weeks and will include a questionnaire for hauliers, so if you have your own lorry or use a private haulage company to transport your pigs, I encourage you to take part. Your feedback will help to make a difference.

Don’t be afraid to challenge a dirty lorry. Let your haulier know up front that you will be inspecting vehicles and won’t accept a dirty lorry. You might consider having some disinfectant on hand. A few difficult conversations now are worth it to mitigate the disease risk.

In the meantime, make sure your unit is protected. Review your cleaning and disinfection procedures and check that you are using a Defra-approved disinfectant.

For more information visit the AHDB website, email lauren.dimmack@ahdb.org.uk or call 02476 478802.

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