Ways to help protect exhibition pigs from the spread of disease

Using different biosecurity methods and practices can help protect your animal’s health.

Protecting your animals from the spread of disease is important not only for the health of your animals but also for their well-being and the profitability of your operations. There are many things that you can do to help keep your animals healthy while you are raising them, at the exhibition and after you market your animals.

It is important to observe your animals daily for signs of sickness or disease and isolate any animal that may have symptoms. This concept is the same for animals that are new to your farm or returning from an exhibition where they had contact with other animals. Providing them with an isolation area prior to mixing with your herd will allow you to observe the animals for any signs of disease and treat them as soon as possible, this will also decrease the chance that something could spread to your herd.

While raising your animals it is important to know what to look for when observing them for symptoms of disease or sickness. Here are some key things to watch your animals for:

  • Lethargic or does not want to get up
  • Off feed
  • Breathing difficultly
  • Temperature
  • Signs of parasite infections:
    • Evidence of worms in manure
    • Red, scratchy areas around elbow pockets, ears or jowl

Using different biosecurity practices can help you maintain the health of your animal. It is important to employ practices that minimize your contact with other pigs, followed by the immediate return to your herd. A good guideline to follow is to always have clean hands, clean boots and clean clothes before coming in contact with your animals. If possible wash your hands, change your boots and change your clothes before attending to your animals. A good practice is to have a pair of boots that is dedicated to being worn only when at your farm. When taking care of your animals you should always go to the healthy animals, of known health status first. Once these animals are taken care of you can then go to your isolation area and care for the stock that could be carrying a disease.

Once you are at an exhibition it is important to continually observe your animals. If you see a sign of sickness, contact a veterinarian for guidance on how to treat your animal. Fresh water is essential for the health and well-being of your animal at an exhibition, remember to provide it often.

Following the exhibition season it is important to clean and disinfect your pen, barn and trailer in order to protect the health of next year’s animals. You will want to remove all organic matter (manure and bedding) from the area, power wash the area clean and apply a disinfectant to help destroy any microbes that may still be present. Allowing the area to completely dry before restocking with animals also will help reduce the microbe load in your facility or on your trailer.

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