Prepared by Lois Harris for Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association
Guelph, ON – When his next-door neighbour’s farm contracted the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus, John Van Engelen knew he needed to improve biosecurity on the hog farm that he runs with his son, located in Lambton County.
He also knew that controlling access to barns and maintaining a clean environment inside are the most effective ways to prevent disease from entering and spreading through hog herds. With funding through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), he built a new, 18’ x 20’ entryway to his 240-sow farrow-to-finish operation.
By installing a Danish entry system, Van Engelen not only increased his biosecurity, but also better protected his animals’ health, kept his business thriving and maintained his 35-year record of never having to de-populate his three barns. A Danish entry is the primary entrance room that is attached to a production area of a barn. This system has distinctly separate “clean” and “dirty” sides, separated by a solid barrier, to maintain sanitary conditions inside the pig barn.
John received $17,000 from the Growing Forward 2 PED Biosecurity Special Intake funding assistance program. Overall project costs ran to $45,000, which was well over what he had estimated, but as he says, “I’m happy with the result.” Building started in spring of 2014, and was completed that fall. Van Engelen did all the inside design and construction work himself.
A big sign politely telling everyone to respect farm biosecurity hangs beside a door with a combination lock to control access to the barns. Anyone wishing to enter needs to call either Van Engelen’s cell or home phone number, which are posted right on the sign. All other access points to the barns are locked.
Shoes and boots off
One of the most critical sources of bringing disease in from outside is on boots and shoes, which is why everyone coming into the barns needs to leave their street footwear on rubber mats in the entry.
Lockers for clothes
A complete change of clothing is required before entering the barn. Larger lockers John bought used from a local school were installed to accommodate coats and hats. Smaller, new lockers inside the shower area are for clothes, underwear and socks.
Two shower stalls
For added biosecurity, barn visitors must shower upon entering and leaving the barn. Van Engelen chose to install two shower stalls for speed and efficiency, for example, when the veterinarian comes and both of them need to get into the barn at the same time. Clean towels are always stocked in the shower area. The ‘Hog Heaven’ sign was a gift from his wife for Christmas 2014.
The shower area is roomy and well-stocked with soap. It has heated floors for comfort. Once inside, users can lock the entry and exit doors at the same time with a long piece of hard plastic that spins from vertical to horizontal, an inexpensive innovation that Van Engelen thought up himself.
The need to have a constant supply of water is important on any livestock farm, and doubly so with a Danish entry system. Van Engelen says that they have had trouble with water shortages in recent years, so when he was designing the entry system, he included a 6,000 gallon reserve tank running under the 8’ x 8’ x 16’ entry. The tank is fed from the farm well and has a float that shuts off the pump when it is full. Directly above the tank opening is the plumbing for the showers.
Clean clothes, boots and shoes
On the other side of the showers, Van Engelen has a good supply of coveralls, boots, and shoes specifically for use in the barn.
Plastic everywhere for easy cleaning
To construct the inside rooms of the entry, Van Engelen chose to use the same type of panels that he uses to separate his pigs in the barn. The panels are 39 inches wide and 103 inches long. They do not rust, corrode, or otherwise be compromised, and they are easy to clean. In the barn, they are used horizontally. In the entry, Van Engelen turned them on their sides and welded them together using a special tool that melts the plastic to bind the seams.
Biosecurity good for everyone
Van Engelen’s biosecurity protocols include having a sign-in book in his office/laundry facilities. Everyone who enters has to sign and date it. He also always asks visitors if they have recently been on another hog farm.
His entry system is one of the more sophisticated designs; others can be completed at lower costs. Anterooms can be as simple as a bench, which separates clean and dirty traffic and allows for a change of boots and clothing. However, installing a full Danish entry system, as John has done, provides the greatest level of risk reduction.
Van Engelen’s advice to anyone thinking of building their own Danish entry system is to budget more than you think it will cost and to make sure you research other farms while figuring out your own needs.
“We always had clean barns, but didn’t do a full biosecurity plan until the scare,” he says. “I kind of went overboard with the construction, but our herd health is better now than ever before.” In the end, he feels his project was a success, and he appreciates the funding he received from Growing Forward 2.
In Ontario, Growing Forward 2 continues to offer cost-share funding assistance for producers. This merit-based funding program provides up to 35% cost-share for producers to construct anterooms or Danish entry systems into high risk areas such as barns or greenhouses.
Growing Forward 2 (GF2) is a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. In Ontario, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) administers Growing Forward 2 for producers.