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On-farm in Russia (III): Optimising biosecurity after ASF

Russia is full of stories. From a visit to Cherkizovo’s brand new sow farm, called ‘Dankov Lipetsk 89’, a range of interesting tales came together. Today, part III of a four-part series from pig-producing Russia: useful biosecurity lessons regarding ASF.

Russian pig integrator Cherkizovo may be applying a lot of US knowledge, but in terms of biosecurity it exceeds the US standards. For perfectly logical reasons though, given that Russia has to deal with outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF), a virus that never entered the USA and which is hoped will stay that way as well.

Did you miss part I and part II? Make sure you catch up!

Additional biosecurity measures by Cherkizovo

Transportation
• Investments in long-haul trucks, including heated trailers and filtered trailers for multiplication (almost US$ 10 million);
• Strict movement control with GPS tracking in feed and live haul trucks;
• Trucks are only allowed to stop at pre-designated stops;
• All trucks are sealed with a serial number ID;
• Segregation of transportation by health status;
• Downtime chart for human interactions with pigs;
• Construction of three new truck washes; option to ‘bake’ trucks.

Humans
• Biosecurity audit programme;
• Monthly summaries of violations;
• Quarantine building for domestic sales in Russia;
• Camera use in clean/dirty lines (after 2016).

Testing
• Foundation of a central lab near Moscow (US$ 5.2 million); over 800 pork tests per week alone.

Mortality removal
• Purchase of 45 cremators for on-site disposal of dead animals (US$ 1.5 million).

Fundamental changes at Cherkizovo

For Cherkizovo, this wasn’t any different, until 2014. The outbreak, already briefly described in the 1st episode this 4-episode series, led to a series of fundamental changes at Cherkizovo. It was reason to take biosecurity a lot more seriously than it had done before. “We always thought that we had our biosecurity pretty well in order,” says Brad Heron, director of the pork division at Cherkizovo.

“Only when ASF struck we realised it wasn’t enough. “What we learned from this outbreak were a few things: people are a significant risk, the virus does not spread very quickly, live haul transport was a vulnerability and government and outsourced testing was too slow to rely on.” The lessons turned into a range of measures, which are summed up in the Box ‘Biosecurity measures by Cherkizovo’.

Feed rations are being brought to silos which are located just inside the farm’s perimeter. From there, an on-site truck will bring the feed to the farm houses. Photo: Vincent ter Beek
Feed rations are being brought to silos which are located just inside the farm’s perimeter. From there, an on-site truck will bring the feed to the farm houses. Photo: Vincent ter Beek

New ASF outbreak in 2016

Despite all these stringent measures, in 2016, the virus broke once more on a 6,200 sow farm. Thanks to all measures, however, the source and cause was easy to find and so further spread could be avoided.

Mr Heron explains, “Testing protocols and GPS trackers allowed us to really hone in on possible infection points. The cause of infection was a human sneaking in an outside bag to steal semen to use on her family’s backyard pigs. We also concluded that the high cost testing programme that was put into place saved the company millions of dollars. Unlike 2014, we did not allow the virus to spread.”

Biosecurity measure are high. Shoes need to be left behind at the enterance. Photo: Vincent ter Beek
Biosecurity measure are high. Shoes need to be left behind at the enterance. Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Transparency about ASF outbreaks

The authorities also quickly acknowledged that it wasn’t just a random company that reported ASF – this was Cherkizovo, taking the outbreak dead seriously and being completely transparent about what happened. Mr Heron says, “It was another hard lesson for us. One thing stood out: we cannot trust the people. That is why we decided to have increased levels of showers and to increase cameras at all clean/dirty lines.”

Cherkizovo’s experiences got international recognition by now, with also US veterinary professionals wanting to learn from Cherkizovo’s experiences with ASF.

Staff at Lipstek 8 are enjoying lunch which is prepared for them. Nobody brings food in and there is strictly no pork served on the menu. Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Read the last article in the series: Part IV

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