4,000 pigs to be culled to control African swine fever in Belgium

Belgium is to cull 4,000 domestic pigs to prevent the further spread of African swine in the infected area in the south of the country.

So far nine cases have been confirmed in wild boar since the virus was confirmed in the Luxembourg region of Belgium, near the French and Luxembourg borders on Friday, September 14.

A 240 square mile infection zone has been set up around the infected area and, alongside various other measures, Beligium is planning to cull around 4150 pigs on 58 farms within it. According to the Belgium farming organisation Boerenbond this includes three large farming companies, while the rest are small farms. It includes 350 sows.

Belgian Minister Denis Ducarme announced that planned cull on Sunday evening, following calls from Boerenbond for all pigs to be removed from the zone.

“The danger is there, because of the large wild boar population, that the virus sooner or later spills over to the pig sector and then the consequences are incalculable. The emptying of the buffer zone is also a very positive measure for the confidence of exporting abroad,” Boerenbond said.

Farmers will be compensated by a combination of national and EU funding. Belgium’s plan to slaughter pig inside the infection zone, which reflect’s the EU’s ASF policy, has been welcomed by the European Commission.

“Belgian authorities took the right decision,” Anca Paduraru, a Commission spokeswoman said. She said the fight against swine fever would be an EU priority because of the threat it poses to the continental economy, according to reports.

Other measures inside the zone include movement restrictions and monitoring of pigs and wild boar. Some farmers are calling for a cull of wild boar.

The UK Animal and Plant Health Agency has warned, however, that given the large numbers of wild boar in this forested area, crossing EU border, eradication of the virus will be a ‘challenge’. However, the Belgian authorities said ‘very few’ domestic pigs are kept in this region and maintain that the risk of domestic pigs becoming infected with ASF remains ‘limited’.

So far 13 non-EU countries have now banned Belgian pork and pork products, following confirmation of ASF, and pork prices have fallen as a result.

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.