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Biosecurity levels of pig fattening farms from four EU countries and links with the farm characteristics

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Ilias Kyriazakis


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© 2020Introduction of infectious agents (e.g. African swine fever) in a farm could have severe implications beyond the farm level. Among the solutions required to minimize the risk of disease introduction and spread, the strengthening of biosecurity is a priority. Yet, although the pig fattening (finishing) herds comprise 41.2% of the pig herds on a European level, the so far published studies on assessing biosecurity levels have focused on farrow-to-finish (closed) pig herds. In response, the aim of this study was to quantify the level of biosecurity of pig fattening farms in four European countries (Belgium, Poland, UK and Finland) and to study associations with management characteristics of the participating farms. The well-established Biocheck.UGent™ biosecurity scoring system was used and adapted to fattening pig farms. Biocheck.UGent™ provides risk-based scores to assess on-farm (external and internal) biosecurity ranging from 0 (worst) to 100 (best). Due to anonymity requirements, countries were coded in A, B, C and D; country codes do not correspond with the order of the countries above. Biosecurity and production data from 108 pig farms (country A: 9, country B: 38, country C: 51 and country D: 10) were collected during 2016. All differences between countries were assessed using Kruskal-Wallis H tests. External biosecurity had an overall median score of 66 (95% CI: 65–68) with differences (p ≤ 0.050) among countries (country A: 58.5, country B: 67.8, country C: 65.5 and country D: 75.3). Internal biosecurity had an overall median score of 71.6 (95% CI: 57.7–75.8) also with differences (p ≤ 0.050) among countries (country A: 51.4, country B: 45.5, country C: 84.1 and country D: 71.2). Using Spearman's correlation rank (rs) tests, non-significant correlation was seen between external and internal biosecurity (rs = 0.09, P = 0.340). Low to moderate negative correlations were seen between the internal biosecurity scores and either the farmer experience in keeping pigs (rs = −0.25, P = 0.008) or the farm size (rs = −0.31, P = 0.001). In conclusion, the present study informed of the biosecurity levels in these four countries and revealed links between biosecurity and farm-related parameters. Farm-specific investments and advice are jointly needed to further improve biosecurity in fattening farms.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chantziaras I, Dewulf J, Van Limbergen T, Stadejek T, Niemi J, Kyriazakis I, Maes D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Livestock Science

Year: 2020

Volume: 237

Print publication date: 01/07/2020

Online publication date: 06/05/2020

Acceptance date: 02/04/2020

ISSN (print): 1871-1413

Publisher: Elsevier B.V.


DOI: 10.1016/j.livsci.2020.104037


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