Biosecurity is critical to a successful boar stud. Biosecurity involves any proactive defensive strategy to prevent or limit disease agents from entering the herd.
Once a disease enters the herd, productivity can be lost, repopulation investment needed, downtime and clean time required, or worse. A boar stud disease break has the potential of infecting all the stud’s customers. Antibiotics added to semen extenders do not consistently prevent transmission of disease from a boar stud.
Disease can enter boar studs through five methods:
- Animals entering the herd.
- Vectors, which are living organisms carrying disease, such as people, rodents, birds and insects.
- Fomites, which are passive, nonliving means of carrying disease, such as equipment, vehicles and aerosol transmissions.
- Feed and water.
- Dead animal disposal.
One key to general biosecurity is sanitation. Sanitation requires both a cleaning agent and a disinfecting agent. Cleaners break down animal greases and are used to wash away organic matter. Then disinfectants are used to reduce disease agents. Cleaners include products such as soaps, organic solvents and degreasers. Cleaners should be used before disinfectant to optimize sanitation.
There are four types of disinfectant that can be used interchangeably in biosecurity protocols.
- Phenolic compound
- Quaternary ammonium
Special protocols, such as those for people entering the stud or for facility maintenance, can significantly reduce the risk of contracting disease. However, biosecurity protocols must be customized on a farm by farm, or even on a location by location basis. The attending veterinary should be involved in creating and updating protocols for each operation.
In addition, the attending veterinarian should work with Choice to assess the health profile of the Choice pigs as it relates to the health profile of the receiving herd. Communication and a sense of partnership between Choice and customers is key to improving biosecurity and herd health.
Preventative health management must be embraced by the leaders of an organization and reinforced constantly to keep the staff energized about biosecurity. It takes a lot of effort to manage biosecurity programs well, but the value it provides is priceless.
Biosecurity begins with the establishment of the boar stud. Boar stud location and design affect how secure its occupying boars will be from disease.
Ideally, boar studs are located at a distance from the breeding farm. This allows extra safeguards to be placed between the boars and the breeding herd. If the breeding herd breaks with a disease and the stud is located away from the farm, then the stud will not be affected by the disease break and it can continue producing and distributing semen.
When it comes to distance from other hog farms or barns, the further the better. Most biosecurity experts are comfortable with building a stud that is at least 5 miles from other swine facilities. Cost and practicality don’t always allow for such distance.
The purpose of providing distance between hog facilities is based on how far disease can travel. It is believed bacteria can travel about 1,000 feet, viruses can travel 25 miles and migratory waterfowl can carry disease such as TGE, thousands of miles.
Preferably, each boar stud should have its own lagoon system. Viruses can live 12 hours to 14 hours (or even a few days) without a host. Parasite eggs, such as round worms, are very stable and can last for years. If a stud’s lagoon system is connected to another swine facility, and the water off the top of the lagoon is recycled for rinsing the barn waste system, then there is potential to carry disease among barns on the lagoon system. This is especially a concern when the isolation lagoon system is connected to the boar stud lagoon system. Boars coming into isolation may bring new diseases that can infect the stud through recycled lagoon water.
Similarly, boar stud isolation space ideally should be at least one mile away from the stud. If the isolation barn is located away from the stud and an animal brings in a disease, then only the isolation facility is affected and not the entire stud. Often, this is impractical, and isolation space is built adjacent to the actual stud bar. However, if resources allow, the best biosecurity measures call for isolation area distant from the stud barn.
Other considerations for facility design include:
- Bird screens.
- Bug screens.
- Air filtration system
- Fencing the perimeter of the stud to prevent wild animals, people and vehicles from entering the stud area.
- Shower-in and shower-out practices with clothing that remains on the “clean” side of the stud.
- Weed control: weeds can harbor insects and rodents.
- Create a barrier of rock around the stud to prevent weed growth
- Apply ground sterilant to prevent weed growth.
- Rodent control
- Clean feed spills immediately because grain attracts rodents.
- Insect control, including spray, baits and weed control.
- Central drop off for suppliers.
- Build a 3 foot to 4-foot vertical barrier impervious to rodents into the barn exterior.
- Off-site dead animal disposal.
- Central marketing facility to which cull boars can be delivered.
- Defined procedures that must be followed to gain entry into the stud. (i.e. days away from pigs, clean clothing, central approval process, etc.).
The key to facility design and location is risk management and economics. The probability of disease outbreak balanced with economic practicality often dictates where the stud is located and the size of the boar stud. For example, it may be more efficient to build one large boar stud, rather than many smaller studs. However, if that one large stud breaks with a serious disease, 100 percent of the semen production may be affected, rather than only one smaller barn. In addition to lost semen production, infected semen can then infect the receiving sow herd.