Benjamin Blair and James Lowe
What is the range of locations of sows that enter a slaughter plant? How many stops along the way do they make? How long do they remain the slaughter channel? Currently there is little data to investigate such questions allowing the industry and regulators to make informed decisions about how to respond to an animal disease outbreak. This project set out to collect data from a harvest plant to see if such information could lead to answers to those questions allowing the industry and animal health officials to better make decisions to prevent and control animal health emergencies.
The swine industry continues to deal with the threat of emerging new diseases. Post production pig movement plays an important role in the transmission of these diseases. While the marketing journey for the movement of top hogs from farm to harvest is well understood, the marketing journey for cull sows, boars and secondary market pigs is more complex. The swine industry has indicated a need to better understand this industry and to determine the impact these issues have on disease proliferation.
The sale of secondary growing and finishing pigs, cull sows, and boars plays an important role in economic pork production. However, as animals are collected and mixed, these channels can be a source of disease transmission. Biosecurity and biocontainment can be very difficult when trucks, animals and people are regularly flowing in and out of these markets as they do business.
In the short-term, there can be risk to swine health from these markets concentrating multiple sources of endemic pathogens and transferring them to the next buying station or back to farms. In the longer term, these markets could become a risk either by helping to distribute foot and mouth disease (FMD), or another foreign animal disease, or by hindering the eradication of it after it is introduced into the U.S. Either of these scenarios could risk the viability of these markets and damage efficient and economic pork production.
To determine how to address these short- and long-term risk scenarios, more must be known about the movements of pigs in these market channels and the interconnections of these markets. The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) requested a review and description of these market channels and the movement of swine in these cull and secondary markets.
SHIC would like to focus on the sale and movement of cull sows and boars from farm to packing plants and on the movement of secondary or light weight pigs on their way to market. The objective of this assessment is to gather information on the scope of these markets to better design surveillance, biocontainment or other risk mitigation protocols that may be used in the future.