Youth pork producers should be aware of disease spread during exhibition season

Understanding how diseases are spread can help youth pork producers raise healthy animals for exhibition.

Raising healthy, quality animals for exhibition is the goal of every youth pork producer involved in swine projects. Having an understanding of how pigs can contact disease will help all producers maintain the health of their animals and add to their success at exhibition. This is also important when you bring animals back to your farm after exhibitions. The ways that pigs can contact disease are explained below. Being aware of how your pigs may be exposed to disease will help you manage the health of your animals.

Direct Contact: The easiest way for diseases to spread is when a healthy animal has direct contact with a sick animal or by using contaminated genetic material in your breeding program. Ways that animals are exposed to direct contact vary and considerations should be made for the protocols at your farm.

  • Nose-to-Nose: happens when pigs are housed together in a pen or barn or share a fence line
    • Bringing new animals into the herd
    • Allowing animals that have been to exhibitions to return to the farm
  • Introduction of new genetic material
    • Semen used in artificial insemination

Indirect Contact: Involves the spreading of disease through people, things, animals or the air. Different diseases can be carried onto your farm when a person or item comes in contact with a sick animal. If cleaning and disinfection methods are not in place, diseases can be easily spread to your pigs.

  • People: Can carry germs on their clothing, boots and person after coming in contact with an infected animal
  • Organic matter: Manure and bedding used on farms that can harbor microbes that will infect other animals
  • Trucks and trailers: If not properly washed can carry disease when used to transport animals
  • Insects and rodents: Have the ability to carry disease from one animal or farm to another
  • Aerial spread: Some specific diseases can be spread through the air, this takes a large concentration of microbes that attach to dust particles and travel in wind currents

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