Small-scale pig keepers urged to complete swine fever survey

Smallholders, pet pig keepers and hobby keepers are urged to take part in Defra's survey
Smallholders, pet pig keepers and hobby keepers are urged to take part in Defra's survey

Small-scale pig keepers across the UK are being urged to take part in a survey to gauge knowledge about the threat of African swine fever.

The survey aims to find out more about what small-scale pig keepers, including smallholders and hobby keepers, already know about the deadly disease.

It was launched by the UK government and devolved administrations as part of the campaign to combat the introduction and spread of the ASF.

It will also ask about their feeding and biosecurity practices and what sources they refer to for guidance on keeping pigs.

The results will be used to improve information available to keepers to help protect the health of their animals and the UK pig industry.

ASF is still circulating in parts of Europe and Asia, having caused huge disruption and the deaths of millions of pigs over the past few years.

There has never been an outbreak in the UK, but the risk of the virus getting into the UK is considered 'medium' and the risk of exposure to the UK pig population is currently considered to be 'low'.

However, this is highly dependent on the level of biosecurity on individual pig premises, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) said.

UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss has called on anyone who keeps pig to take action to help keep the disease out of the country.

She said: “African swine fever has no cure and there are currently no effective vaccines. If it were to reach the UK, it would have a devastating impact on commercial pig keepers, small-scale pig keepers and pet pig keepers alike.

“If you are a small-scale pig keeper or keep pigs as pets, please complete the survey to help governments across the UK understand more about your knowledge of the disease and your pig keeping practices.

"This will help us to provide you with the information you need to protect the health of your pigs and all UK pigs.”

The survey can be found online and closes on 31 August.