Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots MLA has reminded pig owners about the risk of African Swine Fever (ASF) after several reports of the deadly pig disease spreading in parts of Europe.
The risk of the disease spreading to the UK has been assessed as medium and continues to cause concern. Mr Poots warned that whilst there has never been a case of ASF in the UK or Ireland, it is easily transmitted in pork products and is potentially fatal to pigs.
“If the disease were to reach our shores, it could have a devastating effect on export markets and would also require the humane culling of pigs on infected premises to prevent further spread,” he said
His statement stressed the need to maintain a high level of biosecurity. He advised pig owners should make sure their herd do not access any kitchen waste, to only feed their pigs a purchased pig ration, and to remain vigilant for signs of disease for early detection of the disease.
He also reminded pig keepers that it is illegal to feed catering waste of any description or domestic food waste to farm animals in the UK, including pigs kept as pets, particularly as some of the outbreaks of ASF in Europe have been attributed to domestic pigs consuming contaminated pork or pork products.
Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Robert Huey also commented with a reminder that pig keepers can purchase a range of pig foods from their local agricultural merchant that can be safely fed to your pigs.
Mr Huey said: “The need for consistent excellent biosecurity is also paramount in minimising disease risk, such as providing dedicated clothing and boots for workers and preventing vehicles which may be contaminated from entering pig premises.”