Have we been too lax with finisher feed mill biosecurity?
Some of the best practices Hanson has seen mills incorporate have involved containing ingredients to the pit, not allowing for overflow and covering the pit when not in use.
Ann Hess, National Hog Farmer
Sep 05, 2019
Each year, six times more feed is produced in the United States for finishers versus sows, raising the question: Is there a higher risk of contamination via feed for finishing? While biosecurity for boar and sow feed mills can be very strict, finisher feed mills are often much more lenient.
“We all understand there’s more of an economic impact if there is a disease break on a sow farm, but [to protect the industry] we may need to consider feed mill biosecurity for finishing pigs,” says Andrea Hanson, system nutritionist with Professional Swine Management, Carthage System. “In my experience, we’ve really focused a lot as an industry on biosecurity for mills that are servicing boar studs and sow farms, but we need to expand our horizons.”
Hanson, who has been with the Carthage System for three years, is responsible for formulation and nutrition programs for PSM-managed farms across 17 different toll mills and has seen firsthand some of the potential risks for contamination. One of the greatest threats for local contamination comes from the ingredient receiving area, Hanson says. Many mills have ingredient receiving grates that are flush with the floor and not covered.
“Contaminating this area with our shoes, truck tires and road sludge, and allowing birds to form a habitat there can be a severe issue and a threat for feed biosecurity,” Hanson says.
Some of the best practices Hanson has seen mills incorporate have involved containing ingredients to the pit, not allowing for overflow and covering the pit when not in use. Some mills she works with have put in containment devices that fold flush with the floor and close when not in use, while others have welded removable funnel devices to contain ingredient flow. One of the mills in the Carthage System has developed biosecurity flaps that open when needed to receive ingredients and close when not needed. Such devices help reduce overflow by containing the ingredient to the pit and reducing contact with the areas driven over by truck tires.
“If you can’t use those containment devices, it’s important to keep the area around the pit clean and dry. It’s a really hard to do, with winters in Illinois, but it may be important to remove the sludge on those high risky winter days,” Hanson says. “We know that it’s not like this every day in the winter in Illinois, but when it is, we can take some approaches to mitigate risk and then design the pits so that the truck tires don’t have to drive over them, and discourage people from walking over those pits.”
Another strategy Hanson encourages her feed mills to incorporate is for all personnel to treat the mill as a “clean” area, which includes: