Ontario pork producers and related businesses are better protecting pigs with more than 1,000 projects and $8.8 million from a special biosecurity program aimed at reducing the spread of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus.
Producers are tackling more than 85 per cent of the projects, which include building or improving wash stalls, buying pressure washers for the barn, and/or buying heaters for the water in existing pressure washers.
Other farm projects include: • Building or improving Danish entry systems (which have distinctly ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ sides to maintain sanitary conditions inside the pig barn). • Constructing separate driveways for incoming and outgoing vehicles. • Improving deadstock-handling systems, including pouring concrete pads for composting.
Transporters, assembly yard owners and abattoir operators are also participating, with projects aimed at better cleaning and disinfection of trucks, and upgrading biosecurity systems at loading docks.
The special program is funded by the governments of Canada and Ontario through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. It is being delivered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA)
“The pork industry’s tremendous response shows how seriously everyone is taking this disease, as well as their commitment to protecting themselves and the entire sector,” said Allan Mol, President of the OSCIA. “Best of all, the biosecurity measures taken under this program will protect against any disease, so its effects will be felt for years to come.”
Some participants are working on more than one project. Several are investing substantially more money in improving their biosecurity systems than was available through the program’s cost-share formula.
“The number of applications was impressive, especially given the tight timelines,” said OSCIA program manager John Laidlaw. “We had dedicated displays at many meetings and shows. Ontario Pork was also very helpful in providing information to their members and worked especially hard at getting transporters qualified to get in on the program.”
As of April 14, 2014, there were more than 50 confirmed cases of the PED virus in Ontario, since it was first identified on January 22, 2014. Industry and provincial government officials continue to encourage farmers and others to be vigilant and to maintain high biosecurity standards. Research is ongoing into possible sources for the disease (e.g. feed) and methods for boosting the swine herd’s immunity to the virus.
The PED virus is not a risk to human health or food safety. It is, however, a serious disease in swine production, which can cause 100 per cent mortality in piglets.