Expert opinion

The Fortress Farm – what does it look like?

In previous contributions, pig management expert John Gadd gave a long checklist on how to be prepared as a swine farmer, should African Swine Fever occur in the direct vicinity. Now what does that look like in practice? Here is a design.

This layout goes a long way to defend the unit from any inward disease – such as the current threat of African Swine Fever (ASF).

I suggest you study it carefully and compare your own premises and layout to it.

Some of the ideas you will not be able to accomplish due to feasibility and cost. Others, as several producers have found, have been possible and after taking a deep breath have been affordable. Those considering a new unit should design in all the suggestions, everyone. Those expanding an existing unit would be well advised for their future security against incoming disease, to follow as many as they can.

Separating farm staff and pigs from anything outside

The underlying principle of the design is to have an inviolate perimeter fence, so as to separate the farm staff and their pigs from any outside contact, both physical and any surface used.

Figure 1 - ‘Fortress farm’: A biosecure layout minimising contact and contamination.

Next, the farm is divided into 2 areas, one where visitors' footwear, clothes, utensils and vehicles never cross into the areas used by the farm staff and likewise the farm staff (and of course their pigs) never travel over surfaces available to ‘outside’ individuals and their vehicles. Notice that the surfaces used by the farm staff and their vehicles (A, B and C on the plan) are fenced off securely from those surfaces used by visiting people and their vehicles, such as those delivering supplies, including bulk feeds and equipment, and others removing finished pigs for sale and any dead stock to be disposed.

Keeping your farm staff ‘in’ their working areas is as important as keeping all others ‘out’ of them.

Visiting veterinarian

Only the visiting veterinarian is allowed in (via the staff showers) but it is essential that he leaves his vehicle either off the farm or in the visitor’s car park, and his equipment enters via the delivery’s drop-off point. The same goes for other outside professionals – electricians, plumbers, ventilationists and those needed to fix equipment and computers must only enter by the staff entry facilities.

Birds and rodents can in theory get into a well-protected farm. This needs attention too! Photo: 123RF.com
Birds and rodents can in theory get into a well-protected farm. This needs attention too! Photo: 123RF.com

Of course rodents and birds can transgress these barriers – the answer is to appoint both a rodent controller member of the staff, and have another one responsible for bird control.