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Beller Biosecurity Strategies
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Step one: assess the current biosecurity stance

Understanding the effect vector-borne pathogens have on herd health begins with a thorough assessment of the facility’s current biosecurity stance, focusing specifically on identification of:

  • Pathogen vectors such as rats, mice and pest birds;
  • Structural deficiencies that facilitate vector access;
  • Sanitation and housekeeping problems that provide food, water and shelter to vectors;
  • Mechanical trapping and baiting strategies; and
  • Standard operating procedures related to these issues.

Pathogen vectors
Field mice, rats, pest birds such as sparrows, starlings and pigeons carry many of the key pathogens that threaten herd health and biosecurity in pork production facilities.

The house mouse (Mus musculus), Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) and the roof rat (Rattus rattus), for example, are common pests in and around livestock and farm facilities. These and other rodents can reproduce quickly – 4 to 8 litters of 5 to 12 pups per year – and play a significant role in the transmission of swine diseases such as Bordetella bronchiseptica, Brachyspira hyodysenteriae, Escherichia coli, Pseudorabies virus, Salmonella spp.(1) leptospirosis, trichinosis, toxoplasmosis, erysipelas, swine dysentery and others(2).

Pest birds travel much larger distances and can transmit the viruses that cause classical swine fever, PRRS, influenza, TGE(3), Bordetella bronchiseptica, Brachyspira hyodysenteriae, Bryceka syuzm, Pseudorabies virus, Salmonella spp., Streptococcus suis, and Transmissible gastroenteritis virus of swine.

Rodents are most active just after dusk and again shortly before dawn so Beller Biosecurity specialists will examine the interior and/or exterior premises during these times, and document the extent of the infestation. Birds are active during daylight hours and can usually be spotted easily in structural voids and areas protected from the elements. Without direct observation, a Beller Biosecurity specialist may also document an infestation based on presence of droppings, burrows, nests and the resulting damage these pests cause to facilities.

Structural deficiencies
A mouse can jump as high as 18 inches, and can pass through a space as small as one-quarter inch in diameter. Sparrows are well-known for their ability to squeeze through spaces as small as three-quarters inch in diameter. If an entrance is not available, mice and rats, for example, will create one, chewing through ventilation curtains, wood and even galvanized steel pipes. Gaps caused by loose-fitting doors and windows, open sewer pipes and other openings also invite infestations of pest birds and rodents.

A Beller Biosecurity specialist will visually inspect the entire premises to identify access areas, inspect tight-fitting feed bin lids, measure sterile zones around buildings and examine the proximity to non-animal structures in a thorough assessment of the operation’s biosecurity stance.

Sanitation & housekeeping
Swine operations are ideal habitats for rodents and pest birds because they offer an easily accessible supply of food, water and shelter. Therefore a Beller Biosecurity specialist will inspect feed bins to document feed spillage and access to the feed bin; review sterile zones for presence of weeds, debris or other harborage for pests; and examine adherence to federal, state and local ordinances supporting the principles of being a good neighbor.

Mechanical trapping & baiting
Rodent populations exert continual pressure on the exterior of swine facilities, requiring the construction and maintenance of a rocked bio-control zone, where trapping and baiting is actively managed to optimal effect. The Beller Biosecurity specialist will identify the best locations for baiting and trapping. Beller clients may purchase baits and traps from our complete selection of bait and trapping devices and supplies.

Standard operating procedures
The connection between problem identification and action can be evident in well-written and communicated standard operating procedures (SOPs) that reflect the serious biosecurity hazards of vector-borne pathogens. The Beller Biosecurity specialist will review all written procedures and training tools to identify strengths and weakness in the current tools, and recommend additional educational opportunities to complete the operation’s biosecurity stance.

Written documentation
No Beller Biosecurity assessment is finished without a written report accompanied by copies of completed checklists and a purposeful action plan. The written assessment can be delivered in hard-copy or electronic format for easy sharing with management and staff. The assessment also provides a historical reference that helps demonstrate progress over time.

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1 Biosecurity: “security from transmission of infectious diseases, parasites, and pests.” (W.B. Saunder, 1999).

2 Source: Swine Health & Pork Safety Fact Sheet, Vol.2, No. 6, September 2000.

3 Source: Biosecurity Guide For Pork Producers, National Pork Board and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, 2002.

Beller Biosecurity
Strategies, Inc.

2562-18th Avenue
PO Box 11
Columbus, NE 68601
402.910.4423

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