On Farm Health Monitoring - Pig Surveillance Project
The Pig Industry Extension, Disease Surveillance and Biosecurity Project ("Pig Surveillance Project") commenced in July 2010 as a collaboration between the department and pig producers in Victoria (administered through the VFF Pig Group).
The activities undertaken through the Pig Surveillance Project help ensure that the Victorian pig industry is sustainable, through meeting requirements of the domestic market and those of our trading partners.
- Provide specialist training to Animal Health Field Staff to support the pig industry.
- Monitoring of endemic disease and passive surveillance for emergency animal disease.
- Industry engagement through training support (focusing on welfare legislative and industry quality assurance requirements).
- Six-monthly "Industry Liaison Group" meetings between DEPI staff and industry stakeholders.
- Engagement with smallholder "hobby" pig producers, to minimise the likelihood that foot and mouth disease is introduced to Australia's livestock industries through exposure of pigs to contaminated feedstuffs.
Inspection of carcasses during processing at abattoirs provides an improved understanding of endemic disease and demonstrated absence of exotic disease in the Victorian Pig Herd. The diseases routinely monitored are economically-significant and include pneumonia, arthritis, colitis and dermatitis. Pneumonia was the most commonly detected entity in the last 12 months, present in approximately 50% of herds. Of interest was the increase in dermatitis over summer which was most likely a result of increased mosquito infestations on-farm as a result of the floods.
Training of Animal Health Field Staff
Seven Animal Health Field Staff (AHFS) are receiving training in pig health, biosecurity, welfare, environment and quality assurance. Trainees receive practice in pig handling, collecting blood, environmental auditing, welfare assessment and post mortem techniques. The training forms part of Certificate III in Agriculture (Pig Production), which all trainees will complete within the next 12-18 months.
Each trainee works with a "focus farm" to assist with monitoring herd performance, trouble-shoot production / reproduction problems and monitor important endemic diseases. Disease monitoring occurs through inspection of pigs during processing at abattoirs and by undertaking specialist diagnostic testing at DEPI laboratories in Bendigo and Attwood.
Pig industry liaison group meetings
The Pig Industry Liaison Group meetings provide a platform for communication between industry stakeholders and relevant government agencies. Six-monthly meetings have been held since 2009 between Vic DEPI, NSW Industry and Investment and Pig Industry Stakeholders (APL, veterinarians, consultants, producers). These meetings are funded by APL. The broad objectives of these meetings are to provide input into State government policies on biosecurity, traceability, quality assurance, welfare and the environment relevant to the pig industry. The meetings also highlight emerging disease issues that could impact on the industry – through reduced productivity, food safety, biosecurity, impacts on trade and/or public health.
Generic Pig Herd Health Program
With recent changes to state welfare legislation, all producers must now meet Standard 5.2.7 of the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (Pigs) and APIQü® requirements to have a herd health program.
A Herd Health Program Checklist has been developed. APL is funding the department in a Extension project ("Farm herd health pilot program", Dr Holyoake, Principal Investigator) to build on this with supporting resource materials. The project will result in a generic herd health program that can be adopted by pig producers – in both hard copy and computer software formats.
A nationwide study of smallholder producers has highlighted key drivers for pig producers to adopt legislative requirements. It has identified barriers to adopting "best practice" industry requirements (APIQ). We have found that whilst APL and government agencies are stakeholders in adoption of these, the main drivers are market-driven (saleyard and domestic abattoir buyers).
For further information on the Pig Surveillance Project please contact Trish Holyoake on
P: 03 5430 4412
M: 0419 231 534