Maintain hygiene and health in piggeries

You are responsible for implementing and maintaining piggery practices to promote hygiene and pig health.

A good standard of hygiene depends on:

  • piggery design and management
  • routine cleaning and disinfection
  • good housekeeping.

Poor hygiene, overcrowding, introducing new pigs from many sources, contaminated feed and the illegal practice of swill feeding can all increase the incidence of disease in piggeries.

Disease control measures include:

  • farm quarantine and sick bay facilities
  • vaccines, antibiotics and other chemicals
  • cleaning between groups of pigs.

Ventilation

Good ventilation improves hygiene and air quality by increasing air flow through the piggery to remove airborne particles, including micro-organisms, which can cause respiratory disease.

Stocking rate and density

Stocking rate and stocking density influence hygiene. The pig welfare code specifies the minimum stocking rates.

All-In All-Out (AIAO) systems

AIAO systems involve pigs of either the same age (within 2 weeks) or same class being housed together in a room, shed or paddock.

They are kept separate from other pigs to prevent disease being passed from unhealthy slower growing pigs to younger healthy pigs.

In an effective AIAO system:

  • all pigs are removed from the room or shed before the next group of pigs move in
  • all facilities are thoroughly cleaned between batches.

Pen design and cleaning

The design of pens can improve hygiene by preventing accumulation of dung and urine.

Fully slatted pens and partly slatted pens that allow dung and urine to fall through are best, followed by solid-floor pens with a separate drain. Well-designed pens should need very little cleaning while they are occupied.

To clean vacant pens:

  • remove and clean feeders and other equipment
  • remove all loose dung from the pen walls and floor
  • hose down walls and ceilings to remove dust and soak pen with water and detergent
  • pressure-clean using a minimum 1000psi (6900kPa), ideally with hot water or steam
  • disinfect the roof, walls and floor with a spray disinfectant
  • disinfect the water system.

Rotating use of paddocks between pigs and crops and pastures helps to maintain pig health.

Feeding

Trough feeding is preferable to floor feeding. The design of the trough should prevent the pigs from walking, lying, urinating or dunging in it. Trough feeding weaners is strongly recommended.

Feed needs to be protected from other animals, such as rats, that may contaminate it. Water needs to be of suitable quality and quantity.

Footbaths

Disinfectant footbaths can help prevent people from transferring dung and other material that might carry disease causing organisms from one area to another. The disinfection fluid must be changed at least daily.

Vaccination

Vaccines help prevent diseases that reduce productivity. When using a vaccine, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s or veterinarian’s recommendations.

Depopulation

There are methods of reducing or eliminating specific diseases that involve some level of de-population with medication and thorough cleaning of piggery equipment and housing.

Talk with your veterinarian to find out which methods are suitable for your situation.