National Pig Association is polling pig producers on lorry washes at Britain’s abattoirs, with a view to publishing a league table. The association said it hoped abattoirs would see how they are rated against competitors. The poorest performers will be encouraged to invest in improved lorry-washing facilities.
Many pig producers and hauliers consider sub-standard lorry washes to be the weakest link in the industry’s armoury against endemic diseases such as swine dysentery, and imported diseases such as African swine fever and porcine epidemic diarrhoea.
Disease can be spread rapidly from farm to farm by livestock lorries, unless hauliers are able to properly wash and disinfect their vehicles every time they deliver pigs to an abattoir. But washing facilities at most abattoirs are reported by pig producers and hauliers to be inadequate.
There is a threat of the notifiable disease African swine fever being imported from Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania. And in the States and Canada, highly virulent Chinese strains of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea are laying waste to hundreds of pig units.
Both viruses are harmless to humans, but they are fatal to pigs if they are carried onto farms on lorry tyres or on the boots and clothes of humans.
Early results from producer voting suggest the Dalehead Foods recently modernised and now world-class abattoir at Spalding in Lincolnshire will top the NPA league table with the best lorry-washing facilities. But it is too soon to say which abattoirs will occupy the bottom places in the league table as producers are still voting in the poll.
“Abattoirs may be reluctant to invest in modern lorry-washing facilities because they see it as dead money but this is short-sighted. They rely on a reliable supply of British pigs, so it should really be at the top of their agenda,” said NPA chairman Richard Longthorp.
“By committing now to improvements in lorry-wash facilities, processors have an ideal opportunity to restore their credibility with pig producers and take biosecurity a quantum leap forwards.
“We need good lorry washing facilities which in turn will encourage all hauliers to ensure their vehicles are thoroughly washed and disinfected before they depart to collect another load of pigs.”