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Extension > Food > Small Farms > Alternative and small-scale livestock systems > Swine > Biosecurity for alternative pig farms

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Biosecurity for alternative pig farms

Wayne Martin, Sarah Schieck and Yuzhi Li


Reducing the impact of disease has long been an issue on pig farms of all sizes. Whether you have just a few pigs or thousands, it is important for the health and safety of those pigs, as well as for your pocketbook, to do everything possible to minimize their exposure to disease. We know that even on large farms, with a well-established biosecurity protocol, disease outbreaks occur. How then, can a farmer who is using an alternative system of production, which may include open-air facilities such as hoop structures or pasture farrowing, develop an effective biosecurity system? Complete biosecurity is difficult to achieve in any in any system, but a lot can be done on alternative pig farm to reduce disease risk.

First of all, what does biosecurity really mean? It is defined as a set of preventative measures taken to reduce the risk of disease introduction or transmission.

At the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC), pigs are raised in both conventional confinement and in alternative production systems. Specifically, there is an environmentally controlled, slatted floor nursery barn and farrowing facility with farrowing crates. There is also a deep bedded group farrowing barn and hoop structures for gestating sows and for finishing pigs. Consequently, with this blend of housing facilities, pig production at the WCROC is in many ways similar to an alternative pig farm.

Several years ago, the WCROC Swine Scientists established a biosecurity protocol, which has worked very well, given they are in an area surrounded by larger conventional pig facilities that have gone through a series of disease outbreaks, including multiple rounds of PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome) virus and most recently PED (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea) virus.

The main components of the WCROC Biosecurity Plan:

Guidelines for the farm crew:

Guidelines for visitors:

Procedures when selling pigs:

Guidelines for going off farm to buy supplies:

Effective Disinfectants

  • Synergize
  • Virkon S
  • Tek-Trol
  • 1Stroke Environ
  • Clorox

Breeding stock replacement:

All-in-all-out method

Pest control

Additional resources

Videos on Biosecurity for Alternative Swine Production Systems can be found at the UMN Small Farms YouTube channel. There are four videos, titled as follows:

Alternative Swine Biosecurity Video References

Reviewed by Diane DeWitte

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