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Pig farmers getting more conscious of biosecurity protocols

/ 04:55 AM September 16, 2019

The emergence of African swine fever has prompted the P268-billion domestic pig farming industry to work closely with the government in stepping up biosecurity protocols, but there’s still a lot to be done to cascade proper protocols to all producers nationwide.

“We hope more producers will be more conscious and cooperate with the government to control the problem rather than try to spread it even more,” said Vincent Borromeo, general manager of PIC, the local unit of world-leading animal genetics company Genus plc.

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Borromeo, an advocate of state-of-the-art pig farming in the Philippines, called out the people who had disposed dead pigs in Marikina’s waterways.

“That’s very irresponsible. If it enters a body of water like that, it’s like amplifying the rate of infection by a hundred times, because this virus can contaminate other animals by contact with body fluids. If there are other farms relying on that water for their own requirement, they can also be contaminated,” he said.

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Because the pig morality rate from African swine fever can be as high as 100 percent, Borromeo said it was best to condemn the animals and dispose of the carcasses properly. The Department of Agriculture is taking the lead to ensure that contaminated pigs are properly disposed.

In case of an outbreak in one’s farm, he said it was best to contact representatives of the provincial veterinarian, so they could help contain the problem.

There’s also a need to address a lot of misinformation that, in turn, is causing panic among people, particularly on food safety, Borromeo said.

“We need to be clear that this disease is not a public health threat. It’s safe to eat pork. It’s a disease specific to pigs. It does not infect other livestock. So what we’re trying to do, together with the government, is to control the problem from spreading to other farms.”

Based on the experience of other countries that had faced this disease, Borromeo said this could be curbed by taking extra precautions.

He said producers must ensure that feeds were coming from reliable sources and people raising the pigs must disinfect themselves, their clothing and footwear before approaching the herd.

Local government units have been advising producers, especially those raising pigs in their backyard, not to feed the herd with leftover. This is amid reports that some people have made a business out of selling leftover food from restaurants.

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In the Philippines, this disease was first spotted in a backyard piggery in Rodriguez, Rizal, that used leftover food as feeds.

“One of our challenges, and I know the government is trying to work on this, is to ban the disposal (for pig food recycling) of food waste especially those from airports and seaports, and of course, beware of the entry of smuggled meat from contaminated countries,” Borromeo said. “This virus can survive in heat for a long time especially, if meat is not well-cooked, so other pigs can get infected.”

For small piggeries, Borromeo said there were other alternatives to left-over feeds that were not too costly and yet would not risk contaminating the herd.  For instance, he said rice bran could be mixed into commercial feeds.

“We have to look at what we feed them, consider the movement of people, consider any supply or items that are brought into the farm, how they are decontaminated. That’s why on farms, we recommend people to shower before working with the animals,” he said.

While humans are not carriers of this disease, Borromeo said people could unwittingly spread the disease if their clothing would come in contact with infected blood or meat.

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