The threat our industry faces from increasing feral wild boar populations was brought home to me during a presentation by Peter Watson from the Deer Initiative at a recent NPA meeting. Established wild boar populations now exist in at least 3 areas of the country : Forest of Dean, New Forest and Sussex. The population in the FOD is of the most concern as it appears to be increasing exponentially year on year. At present the population is estimated to be ~1000 but with the current minimal population control this is expected to be over 6000 within the next 3 years. Boar from the Forest are already reported to be ranging as far as Newport in South Wales, Ledbury in Herefordshire, and recently Wiltshire. A couple of years ago AHVLA (as they were then) conducted some extensive disease testing of culled wild boar in the Forest which, at that time, failed to show up significant infection by major pig pathogens (such as PRRS, Swine Dysentery etc.) but some evidence of Leptospiral infection was noted. We are all very concerned that as the population increases, the potential for wild boar to become infected with, and act as vectors for, major pig pathogens will increase considerably. We also hear regular reports from Eastern Europe of ASF in wild boar and the problems these countries face in trying to tackle this devastating disease. It would be great if we could all play our part by reporting wild boar sightings on line at: (http://www.wild-boar.org.uk/report_a_sighting
PED and ASF remain very real threats. We have all been involved with biosecurity reviews on various units and some common issues in these discussions have included:-
- PIG LORRY DRIVERS. Do they venture from the designated area at the top of the loading ramp? or even further into the unit? Do unit staff go onto the lorry? They shouldn’t!!
- STAFF CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR. Do all staff wear designated unit clothing and footwear which they put on as they arrive at work, and take off before leaving work? They should!!
- DEADSTOCK REMOVAL. If bins are removed via a collection service, are they stored and picked up from a site well away from any pig areas of the farm. They should be!!
- SIGNAGE. Is farm signage up-to-date with clear instructions detailing biosecurity and contact details so as to reduce delivery drivers coming straight into the middle of the unit? It should be!!
I could go on as there are lots more but if you are at all interested in a biosecurity review, please speak to one of the vets.
All the best
Richard B Pearson BVSc MRCVS