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Biosecurity has many layers, and adhering to protocols properly and consistently is essential for the safety of animals, farm workers, the public and our food.

While training and education are essential, producers’ top priority needs to be keeping barns as clean as possible and protocols must be executed properly and consistently. To build a biosecurity culture on the farm, everyone on the farm must understand why certain procedures matter and the potential fallout if they aren’t followed. Here are some actions to consider:

  • Set up a bench-entry and shower system to clearly designate clean/dirty sides and to control the movement of people.
  • Provide instructions on proper showering, apparel removal and storage. Offer personal hygiene products and thoroughly clean the areas at least weekly.
  • Assign separate coveralls and boots to each building or site. Color-coding the apparel adds quick recognition if someone is out of place.
  • Promote frequent, thorough hand-washing throughout the day, which means having hot water and soap accessible within barns. If using gloves, provide for proper disposal.
  • Keep tools for facility repairs and animal treatment within each barn to minimize the need to carry tools into facilities.
  • Establish protocols for bringing products, such as boar semen, lunches and service providers’ tools, onto the site. A double-bag or box system might suffice. Some units use UV-light scanners to “sterilize” packages.
  • Periodically drain water lines and run bleach or a disinfectant through them.
  • Replenish rodent-control baits.
  • Between pig groups, remove organic matter from barns and use soap/detergent to clean rooms, as well as equipment that remains in place.
  • Once dry, inspect the barns, checking cracks and crevices. If feed, hair or manure is found, re-cleaning is required. Use sidewalk chalk to mark spots to ensure that they aren’t missed.
  • Once a building is completely clean, disinfect and allow rooms to dry. Find information on disinfectant options.
  • Maintain downtime as long as possible before reloading a barn.
  • Periodically clean offices, load-out and storage areas.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment that is removed from barns but will be brought back in again. Discard cracked plastic panels, sort boards or paddles because they can harbor pathogens.
  • Inspect and clean chutes and load-outs. As needed, repaint or reline chutes to ensure the wood is clean.
  • Work with your veterinarian and breeding stock suppliers when bringing in replacement animals. Establish the health status of the herd supplying the animals. Isolate replacements away from the production site. Test and ensure the animals are healthy before moving them into the herd. Ensure that boar semen tests negative before accepting it.
  • Whether it involves pigs, people or vehicles, control traffic to minimize the risk of introducing pathogens into your herd.
  • Instruct visitors about your biosecurity policies before they arrive at the site.
  • For anyone going from one farm to another, downtime requirements between farm visits will vary. Consult a farm manager of a given facility for details.
  • Ask that vehicles be washed and the interiors cleaned before arriving at your farm and suggest that visitors do the same once they leave.
  • Designate a parking space on a hard or gravel surface located away from the animals.
  • Designate a visitor entrance to barns where everyone must sign in.
  • Have visitors follow your farm’s showering and barn clothing protocols.
  • Conduct a biosecurity audit to help identify whether procedures are being followed and to shed light on what works, what doesn’t and what needs to change.
  • Meet with your veterinarian at least annually to review the health status of your herd, as well as within the surrounding area, and then compare the biosecurity measures in place.
  • Ask your staff for new ideas and suggestions for actions that need improvement.
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