Pig producers told to follow strict biosecurity as ASF risk rises

The rising threat of African swine fever (ASF) in Europe has increased the focus on UK farm biosecurity
The rising threat of African swine fever (ASF) in Europe has increased the focus on UK farm biosecurity

Pig producers are being urged to follow the industry's biosecurity checklist as the risk of African swine fever (ASF) risk grows.

The increasing threat of ASF, reflected in the government's recently changed UK risk status, has increased the focus on measures being taken on farms to keep the virus away from pigs should it enter the UK.

The decision to upgrade the risk status on ‘human mediated pathways’ follows the spread of ASF westwards across Europe to parts of Germany, with new cases ‘jumping’ several hundred kilometres from previous cases.

That has led to vets concluding that human movement with infected produce, subsequently fed to pigs or the transport of infected equipment is likely to be responsible.

The National Pig Association (NPA) stressed that the recent movements of the virus in Europe must serve as a wake-up call to producers, as well as the government.

NPA senior policy adviser Rebecca Veale said: “It only takes one slip to make this challenging time significantly worse.

“There is lots of biosecurity advice out there, and we’ve brought it all together to provide a comprehensive and visible checklist for farms – sometimes a reminder makes you realise something has slipped.

“The last two years have put increasing pressure on producers and their staff so it’s understandable if some complacency has crept in,” Ms Veale said.

“Sometimes, it is just about the simple things that people haven’t thought about for a long time, like an extra gate, or lines on the floor or signage to clearly de-mark areas.

“We want people to understand that the risk has increased and look at things with a fresh pair of eyes, challenge staff to think about how you could make something more biosecure and to generally up your game.

“We continue to lobby on national biosecurity and to communicate the risks of potential ASF spread more widely, for instance to seasonal horticulture workers.”

Biosecurity checklist

The NPA, along with the AHDB and Pig Veterinary Society (PVS), have put together the checklist:


• Have a visitor policy and stick to it (you can say no!).

• Record everyone on and off the unit.

• Look at people flow – can you put in showers or create a Danish/barrier entrance?

• Make barriers where you want people to change PPE or stop and add signs telling them what you want them to do.

• Keep PPE well stocked where you need it.

• Strict policy for pig contact and movement between units to limit cross contamination – remind your regular visitors and don’t be afraid to point out the obvious to those less experienced (many contractors won’t know that pork onsite is not permitted).

• Extra vigilance for people that have visited travelled overseas recently.


• Source knowing the health status of your herd and the pigs coming in.

• Quarantine.

• Keep records!

• Organise the flow to keep groups separate and minimise contact with visitors.


• Have a designated parking area outside the biosecure area.

• Make sure your signs and gates stop vehicles where you want them to.

• Provide cleansing and disinfection materials for vehicles (including your own!).

• Don’t forget #MuckFreeTruck - cleanse and disinfect vehicles between units.

• Keep the parking area clean.

• Check delivery vehicles, including the cab (it should be clean).

• Look at which vehicles come onto the unit and explore if you could take deliveries etc. further away from pigs.

Vectors of disease

• Deter birds and wildlife.

• Keep on top of vermin control.

• Zero pigmeat policy and make it known to all people on your unit.

• Make sure all suppliers of product to your unit(s) are aware of your biosecurity policies.


• Keep it clean.

•Have a rota for checking (fresh eyes might spot something missed by others).

• Limit any sharing of equipment wherever possible.


• Put notices up – check out the AHDB resources.

• Make people are aware of the risk they pose.

• Check perimeter fencing regularly.

• Apply to reroute footpaths (not a quick change but can be worthwhile).