African swine fever continues to inch its way across Europe, and while safeguards are in place to keep it out of the U.S., pork industry officials say continued vigilance is essential.
“There is an emphasis on prevention along with preparedness,” said David Pyburn, chief veterinarian for the National Pork Board.
The recent discovery of African swine fever in Germany essentially shut down the largest pork producing country in the European Union, with exports to China and other major customers stopped immediately.
“There are no exports anywhere outside of the EU,” Pyburn said. “They are going to lose billions of dollars.”
Pork industry officials have worked closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other organizations to put a surveillance system in place, which includes carefully examining imported feedstuffs or other ingredients. Pyburn said this also includes an enhanced effort to control the country’s feral hog population.
He said the U.S. is much better prepared than Germany.
“They had little knowledge of the sites they had, locations, biosecurity protocol, testing availability,” Pyburn said. “We have our Secure Pork Supply program that enables us to have that information ahead of time.”
He said while African swine fever is in the news, other swine diseases continue to cost producers millions of dollars annually. Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is at the top of the list, Pyburn said, and usually becomes more prevalent as the thermometer drops.
He said the outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) in 2013 heightened the pork industry’s need for better biosecurity. It forced producers to implement strict biosecurity programs on their farms.
“We are not seeing a lot of PED now for two years running,” he said.
Pyburn said while there will always be new pathogens, some could possibly be eradicated like pseudorabies was in the 1990s. One of those is mycoplasma.
“I think we are in a position where mycoplasma could eventually be eradicated,” he said. “I think if we work on improving pig flow and pig comfort, we might be able to do it.”
Other diseases like swine influenza are always on the industry’s radar.
More information on African swine fever and other diseases from the Swine Health Information Center may be found online at www.swinehealth.org.
For cattle producers, early fall is usually a popular time for weaning calves. Grant Dewell, Extension beef veterinarian at Iowa State University, said those calves will need pre-weaning vaccinations to make sure their immune system is ready for the transition into the feedlot.
Dewell said cattle still need to be closely monitored, even when the combines are rolling.
“Make sure you keep an eye out on the normal things. You want to make sure they are staying healthy,” he said.
With weather issues, Dewell said any feedstuffs should probably be tested.
“With the drought some have had and the downed corn from the derecho in August, there is the potential for excessive nitrates in the feed,” he said. “You could have aflatoxin and mold issues as well because of the weather. I would definitely test any feed you plan to use this winter.