Dry fog with common disinfectants decontaminates supply rooms

Hog producers discouraged to learn foggers don’t fully disinfect a supply room should not close the door on the biosecurity method yet.

New research spearheaded by Erin Kettelkamp, DVM, with Swine Vet Center, found a better solution for disinfecting supplies in a hog facility.

“In previous research, all commercial foggers resulted in incomplete disinfectant contact to all sides of objects,” reported Kettelkamp, who earned her DVM from the University of Illinois. While at the university, she studied fogger decontamination efficacy and identified a new protocol for disinfection.

Particle size, disinfectants studied

Kettelkamp’s research considered two questions. The first was how the aerosol particle size impacted fumigation. The second question was the composition of the disinfectant.

“First, particle size does matter and the smaller the better,” she said. “We used a dry fog that is a particle under 10 microns. A fine mist is 100 microns, so this is a particle you can’t quite see. But when you have them in a high frequency, it creates a dense fog, which is important because those small particles move through the room. Instead of bursting at the first surface they come into contact with, the particles permeate the room and achieve disinfection.”

For the second question, Kettelkamp tested a combination of hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid, which is used in food processing, dairy and beverage industries for disinfection. After testing different concentrations of both, she found one that inactivated pathogens.

“There is a ready-to-use formula…but it wasn’t strong enough,” she said. “We increased our concentration by doubling our hydrogen peroxide and quadrupling our peracetic acid.”

She also tested using hydrogen peroxide alone at the high rate, but it was not effective. Disinfection depends on peracetic acid in the mixture, she added.

Kettelkamp used a geobacillus indicator strip with a robust bacterial pathogen colony to test the results. She validated the results with a porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) modified live virus vaccine and manure. The dry fog inactivated the indicator strip and PRRS while also disinfecting the manure.

Dry fog best

“If a producer wants to continue to use a fogging chamber, I recommend working with a veterinarian on using a type of fogger to decrease the particle size,” Kettelkamp said. “Hurricane foggers can be adjusted to smaller particle sizes and will be more effective (than larger sizes).

“The gold standard is a dry fog for best permeation throughout the room,” she added. “Specifically in this model, the hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid worked well.”

Another benefit to a dry-fog system is it only needs an air compressor for operation. And after treatment, clean-up is easy because dry fog produces no residue or liquid pools that need to be cleaned up.

Recommendations

Based on her research, Kettelkamp reports complete disinfection by aerosol decontamination occurs with droplet sizes less than 14 microns. Optimal results require a droplet size that’s less than 6 microns, also considered a dry fog.

In addition, the disinfectant concentrations for decontamination must be hydrogen peroxide levels above 4.2 ppm and peracetic acid levels at 0.13 ppm.

“Fogging certainly isn’t the only method to decontaminate items as they come into farms,” she added. “Other methods such as hand spraying items and time and temperature to let items decontaminate are also effective. Fogging could also be used with other methods to achieve a really robust decontamination.”

For more information, you can view Kettelkamp’s research presented at the 2021 American Association of Swine Veterinarians meeting here:
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Nasty PRRS variant continues to spread undeterred by summer’s heat

The virulent porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) variant identified as PRRS 1-4-4 continues its destructive march through hog farms, even in the heat of summer.

The PRRS variant first struck herds in Minnesota and northern Iowa this past winter, and while producers and veterinarians hoped it would calm down in warm weather, latest data suggests things aren’t so simple.

“Even when it was 99°, we were getting calls about PRRS breaks,” reported Laura Bruner, DVM, with Swine Vet Center in St. Peter, Minnesota.

“It’s unprecedented; it’s unusual,” she continued. “This virus is walking past normal biosecurity practices such as on-farm biosecurity, trucking biosecurity, air filtration and feed mitigation.”

Survey shows variant’s hot spread

Alarmed by the continued PRRS 1-4-4 outbreaks, Bruner surveyed her peers of 15 veterinarians in the US to understand the variant’s reach. She was shocked by the results.

“In just over a month during the warm time of the year, we had 107,000 sows break with PRRS 1-4-4, and I believe that is an underestimation,” Bruner said.

“When you talk to practitioners about it, they have farms breaking with the variant that have never broke with PRRS before, and for some farms it’s been decades or never.

“Also interesting is how many nursery breaks there are,” she continued. “I can count on both hands in my career how many lateral field infections have happened in the nursery.

“But these are true nursery breaks and they’ve been devasting. It causes more mortality than a typical PRRS break and makes a 40-pound pig quite a bit sicker than other viruses.”

Another unusual detail of these outbreaks is the consistency of the PRRS 1-4-4 variant.

“Historically, if you have a sow-farm break, you call another veterinarian and compare sequences,” Bruner explained. “Rarely do they match. But with this one, it’s frequently over 99% to 100% a match. I had one farm in southern Minnesota that was a 100% match to a PRRS virus in northern Minnesota.”

Time to collaborate

Armed with her PRRS 1-4-4 survey results, Bruner sought help from Cesar Corzo, DVM, at the University of Minnesota. Corzo works with the Morrison Swine Health Monitoring Project, which monitors the incidence of swine disease such as PRRS. He set up a meeting at World Pork Expo (WPX) with other veterinarians and swine disease researchers to discuss the PRRS variant.

“My purpose of getting that meeting together was to collaborate and learn from each other,” Bruner said.

“We’ve learned we don’t know everything about PRRS, and specifically this virus because it does seem to be different. It is a game changer, just like PED (porcine epidemic diarrhea) when it arrived.”

Bruner hopes new research discussed during the WPX meeting will shed light on the variant’s unusual virulence. But for now, collaboration among practitioners will help fill in answers.

“We need to learn from who breaks with 1-4-4 and who doesn’t,” she said. “And we need to learn the successes and failures of their investigations.

“We need to go all the way back to the beginning and ask: Do our normal biosecurity practices work? Does our normal disinfection work? Do the filters we use today work? What’s different?”

Tighten biosecurity

With the variant’s threat to hog farms, Bruner recommends producers use this as an opportunity to improve biosecurity on the farm.

“Take a hard look at your biosecurity for any weaknesses and get them corrected,” she said. “We need to be looking at all the major inputs into the farm like people, feed, water and air as a source of infection.

“We are unsure of feed as a route of entry and haven’t done research on PRRS specifically in feed, but if I was a producer and didn’t have PRRS, I would consider a feed mitigate.”

In addition, Bruner recommends collaborating with neighbors to understand what’s going on in the area to help be prepared.

For farms that broke with PRS 1-4-4 last winter, Bruner said it is still too early to know if the virus leaves the farm or will reinfect the herd.

For more information about PRRS 1-4-4, visit:

Highly infectious PRRS variant causes high mortalities on sow farms

New PRRS 1-4-4 L1C variant presents dramatic symptoms, quick spread

Virulent PRRS outbreaks in grow-finish require fast action to cut losses

 

 

 

 

High hog prices mean you can’t afford misses

Today’s high hog prices dictate a completely different mindset from a few months ago when an oversupply of hogs and low prices required cost-cutting measures.

“It’s gone from trying to save and get by to now where hogs are highly profitable so you can’t afford to miss,” reported Jordan Graham, DVM, Swine Vet Center, St. Peter, Minnesota.

“The margins are still fairly tight with corn prices as high as they are,” he added. “But when we miss out on selling a hog that is worth double what it was last year, it really hurts.”

Instead of looking at ways to cut costs, Graham says it’s time to reconsider health programs that weren’t economical at last year’s market prices. Some of those interventions may more than pay for themselves at current prices.

Shore-up vaccine strategies

“Reevaluate your vaccine strategies to make sure you are protected as much as possible from disease breaks” he said. “If you cut vaccinations now at the cost of a disease break or missing live born, then we are really shooting ourselves in the foot.

“If producers are partial-dosing, the savings gain might not be worth it if there’s any lapse in protection,” he added. “An example is ileitis prevention. Partial-dosing is done in the industry, and this would be a year where it probably does not pay because you run a higher risk of a breakdown in immunity.”

In addition, producers may also want to explore feed-additive options to improve feed conversion and average daily gain.

Treatment during outbreaks

“Being early and proactive on health challenges is extremely important this summer,” Graham said. “It’s almost certain any intervention that helps reduce mortality will pay for itself.”

For example, more aggressive treatment during a disease outbreak will likely be cost-effective.

Capital investments

“Take the opportunity while markets are good to take a second look at some capital investments that might have been cost prohibitive in the past,” Graham said.

For example, a sow-farm filtration system to minimize disease breaks may be a good investment right now.

Another potential investment area is adding space to your farm for proper gilt development. Graham said this will help increase total-born output of gilts by allowing adequate disease and housing acclimation. Gilts are the future of the farm, and investing in doing gilts right will pay dividends.

Biosecurity additions

Improvements in biosecurity to reduce disease outbreaks also may be worth the investment now, he added.

A couple of options include adding ultraviolet boxes for supply entry and building a compost facility to move away from rendering vehicles on the property.

This also may be the time to make capital improvements to truck washes. One example is adding thermo-assisted drying.

Taking advantage of the current market situation to make improvements now in herd health can pay off in the future when the market tightens up again, because as this past year has shown, markets can change fast.

“Last year I said we’d have low prices due to ample supply of hogs, and that’s turned on a dime this year,” Graham said.

 

Disinfectant fogged over pigs kills lingering pathogens

Two lingering cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) at different finishing units were frustrating Ross Kiehne, veterinarian with Swine Vet Center, St. Peter, Minnesota.

“These barns tested positive to PED before, but these were sites we wanted to use for gilts,” Kiehne explained. “We cleaned up the barns and utilized normal disinfectants. We put gilts back in there, but oral-fluid testing indicated the pigs were positive for PED.

“We didn’t see any clinical signs so we thought it might be an environmental contaminant. But we weren’t going to use the gilts as long as they were testing positive, even if we thought it was a false positive.”

Fogging allowed over pigs

A possible solution was a disinfectant that could safely be fogged into barns with pigs present. Kiehne had heard about preliminary university tests indicating a disinfectant called Zoono Microbe Shield was effective for many diseases on impact plus residual action for at least 7 days.

“It’s a fairly new disinfectant that you can apply right over the pigs,” he said. “I convinced the owner to spray with Zoono. We sprayed and tested multiple times. The pigs tested negative every time, so we were comfortable using those gilts.”

If the product hadn’t worked, Kiehne’s client may not have been able to use the gilts. Or they needed to go through the process of moving the gilts out, cleaning and disinfecting again to try to achieve negative tests.

“What I like about Zoono is it is very safe and can be sprayed with pigs in the barns,” Kiehne said. “And the 7 days of residual action is very significant. All other disinfectants kill on impact only and offer no other action.”

Since the success with clearing PED from the finishers, Kiehne has fogged the disinfectant in rooms with pigs from 3 to 4 days old up to sows, with no adverse effects.

Further testing

“We are trying to utilize this product more now for similar circumstances,” Kiehne said. “I think it was an environmental contaminate that was causing us some headaches with the PED tests. Now I’m going to do more testing over pigs for other diseases.”

In addition, more information on Zoono’s use in swine should be available soon from a study conducted by Derald Holtkamp, DVM, at Iowa State University. Holtkamp is evaluating Zoono and should have results later this summer.

Zoono kills ASF, COVID-19

Zoono’s disinfectant product has been thrust into the limelight the past few years after outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) and COVID-19 in China. The product developed by Zoono Group Limited, a New Zealand company, kills ASF and COVID-19 on contact and offers residual action up to 30 days for some pathogens, according to information on its website.

Key to the product’s success is the Zoono Microbe Shield that forms a bond with surfaces to inhibit growth of microbes. The EPA-approved product is safe for humans and animals because it uses a technology to kill the microbes without dangerous chemicals.

Companies like United Airlines now use Microbe Shield to provide a layer of protection in the passenger cabins on everything from seats and tray tables to lavatories.

For more information on Zoono, visit www.apiamsolutions.com.

 

 

Common mistakes to avoid during PRRS elimination

Eliminating porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus from a breeding herd is not a simple task, and no herd acts exactly like the next, according to Brad Leuwerke, DVM, with Swine Vet Center, St. Peter, Minnesota.

Looking back at years of PRRS elimination efforts, Leuwerke led a retrospective analysis of several breeding herds to determine why some were able to stay on course and achieve success while others were unsuccessful.

“We assessed several factors thought to influence a return to PRRS stability,” he said. “We found the season when the outbreak occurred, the virus strain causing the outbreak and the herd’s previous PRRS status all substantially affected the time necessary to eliminate the virus from the breeding herd.

“Largely, though, it feels like these factors are often out of our control.”

The review did highlight four factors producers can control that help drive successful virus elimination. “Failure to account for these aspects will extend the time necessary to achieve negative status,” Leuwerke said.

1) Avoid premature replacement entry

Producers must resist the urge to bring in extra replacement animals as a herd closure progresses. If replacements are brought in before the virus is eliminated, these animals will become infected and the closure time is drawn out.

“Instead, herds should ‘load up’ with replacements at the beginning of the closure to withstand the temptation to open up before the virus is eliminated,” Leuwerke said. “In addition, a reduction of culling, starting early in the closure, will also help in maintaining production goals without needing to open the herd.”

2) Set ‘day zero’ with an entire herd exposure

Start the PRRS elimination on a specified “day zero” using direct virus exposure of the entire herd.

“Infecting the entire population at one time allows for the shortest closure possible and is preferred over allowing the virus to naturally move through the population,” Leuwerke said.

This is especially important with newer, more virulent PRRS strains that look to have longer periods that animals shed virus.

3) Manage farrowing biosecurity

As a breeding herd nears the end of the closure, farrowing is the last place the virus can be found.

“The last animals to harbor and shed virus will do this through piglets, either born virus-positive or infected following birth,” Leuwerke explained. “Our biosecurity practices late in a closure influence the length of closure and, ultimately, if elimination is successful.”

At this stage, pigs should not be held back at weaning for more growth. “This is one of the worst things we can do in a sow herd working towards PRRS-negative status,” he said. It will extend the time of elimination.

Farrowing sanitation is very important, and poor practices can cause the elimination to fail. Leuwerke recommends all-out farrowing rooms at weaning so the rooms can be thoroughly washed, disinfected and dried. Common hallways also must be washed after all pig movements.

Good hygiene with processing tools must be practiced, too, to prevent the virus from spreading between litters.

4) Monitor herd status

“Newer monitoring strategies that allow us to test more animals have given us more confidence that a herd is truly negative before reopening to replacement animals,” Leuwerke said.

These new strategies include the use of processing fluids from many animals in the population.

“Before the use of processing fluids, we often would blood test 30 piglets each month,” he explained. “If we had 3 consecutive months negative, we called the herd negative. We likely missed virus using these testing procedures.”

Leuwerke admits PRRS eliminations are difficult. But good planning before a herd closure starts will help avoid common mistakes that lead to elimination failures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When swine medicine crossed over to human medicine

The tools used countless times to eradicate disease in sow herds and on hog farms became the tools to help pork packing plants reopen last spring after shutting down due to COVID-19. In an unusual turn of events, swine medicine crossed over to human medicine and helped quell COVID-19 outbreaks among plant workers and their families.

Veterinarians involved in the unprecedented effort spoke in a session at the 2021 American Association of Swine Veterinarians meeting. Tim Loula, DVM, led the effort with help from Paul Yeske, DVM, both of Swine Vet Center, St. Peter, Minnesota. Also closely involved were David Bomgaars, DVM, with RC Family Farms, Orange City, Iowa, and Brad Freking, DVM, New Fashion Pork, Jackson, Minnesota.

Plant closures

“When we started to hear about the COVID-19 problems, never did we imagine that slaughter capacity would be the biggest challenge that many producers and veterinarians would have to deal with,” Bomgaars related.

While pork-processing plants were deemed essential and could stay open during the pandemic, COVID-19 outbreaks sparked alarm among workers, their communities and local government officials. Soon, plants in Minnesota and Iowa cut back production and some completely closed.

A growing backlog of market hogs created great alarm in the pork industry. Producers and veterinarians worked on ways to handle backlogs while waiting for processors to reopen. But the processors didn’t know when that would happen.

Connecting with medical teams

“It just seemed like nobody was doing anything to get an answer on how to get these plants back running,” Bomgaars said. “Tim Loula and I discussed the need to get the human medical community involved in this process. We needed to better understand the prevalence, exposure, severity and asymptomatic rate of COVID-19.”

Bomgaars started seeking connections in the medical community. He contacted the CEO of his local hospital in Orange City and was provided a connection with Sanford Health, a major medical system in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Sanford’s chief medical officer was willing to work with Bomgaars and other veterinarians to develop a plan for testing workers and getting packing plants back in operation.

“The medical doctors’ response was very encouraging,” Bomgaars related. “I was also talking with Roger Main, DVM, at the Iowa State University (ISU) Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. It was taking the state hygienic lab 10 to 12 days to get COVID-19 tests completed. The ISU lab has been running over a million PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests a year. They helped the hygienic lab expand to run PCR tests. There was tremendous collaboration with human-health providers in Iowa.”

Both Loula and Bomgaars discussed their experiences eliminating disease in a hog population with the medical doctors. They explained how they used testing to assess the infection and immunity in populations of hogs. This same process could be used to assess COVID-19 infections in workers.

“Dr. Loula’s basic premise is we need to get testing and build confidence in what’s occurring so people will come back to work,” Bomgaars said. “Through collaboration with veterinarians, epidemiologists and health care providers, he developed a testing algorithm.”

The COVID-19 algorithm

The algorithm is a roadmap for handling COVID-19 test results and getting packing plants open (link to algorithm). All workers are tested either with a PCR or antibody test. Those testing positive on the PCR must quarantine and retest weekly until negative, which is when they can return to work. Workers who test negative can work unrestricted but must continue to be tested on a regular basis.

Workers testing positive on the antibody test must follow-up with a PCR test, according to the algorithm. If the PCR is negative, they can go to work. But if the test is positive, they must quarantine and be retested weekly by PCR until they have a negative test.

“This plan was to test everyone and keep them from spreading to other workers,” Bomgaars explained. “It definitely helped keep other processing plants operating.”

Workers were managed according to their health status to decrease health risk and promote worker safety. The negative PCR and immune (positive antibody test, negative PCR test) populations could work together. Initially it was proposed that these workers and families were housed in hotels or dorms to stay safe. The positive PCR with positive antibody test were at very low risk of shedding if showing no clinical signs. They were segregated in the plant or worked different shifts from the rest of the population.

“In the initial testing, it was amazing how many workers were asymptomatic,” Bomgaars said. “One plant had 2,400 people tested with 40% PCR positive and well over half showing no clinical signs. At another plant, 370 workers tested positive, and all were asymptomatic.”

Building worker trust

The algorithm helped packing plants get back in operation. And those that didn’t close were able to stay at near capacity by taking steps to test and manage workers to stop the spread of the disease.

“We also noticed a very personal response with education and explanations about the situation in languages that people could understand,” Bomgaars added.

During the really tough times of the pandemic, gift certificates were purchased from local restaurants for take-out food and given to plant workers. On weekends, Bomgaars said they had truckloads of food brought in and donated to the workers, too.

“Doing things that show you care about their health and family had a major impact on worker confidence that you want to do what’s best for them,” he added. “That’s a huge thing we learned in this process.”

The veterinarians also took home some good lessons about working with their human medical counterparts. “Local health workers understood that veterinarians are used to population medicine, and human medicine is more attuned to individuals,” Bomgaars explained. “They learned new methods of thinking. And the synergy that occurred in those situations was remarkably good. We may need this again.”

 

Antibiotics properly timed during PRRS virus outbreak reduce reproductive failure

An outbreak of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) on a sow farm will trigger reproductive failure in gestating sows. While PRRS is a viral disease, it causes endometrial inflammation leading to abortions, stillborns and mummified fetuses.

Ross Kiehne, DVM, with Swine Vet Center, conducted a study to evaluate the use of the injectable antimicrobial Draxxin® (tulathromycin) administered to gestating sows during a PRRS virus outbreak. Specifically, he wanted to see how administering the antibiotic at different stages of gestation affected the rate of reproductive failure.

On-farm investigation

The investigation was conducted on a 2,500-sow farm in northeast Iowa that broke with PRRS virus in mid-2019. The first 5-mL dose of Draxxin was administered to gestating sows 5 days after the outbreak was detected. A live viral inoculation (LVI) was performed 2 days later. A second round of the antibiotic was administered 13 days after LVI. About 20% of the sows were not treated, and these animals served as a control.

Data collected for the study was based on the pregnancy stage when the first antibiotic treatment was administered. The gestation stages were day 0-18, day 19-29, day 30-49, day 50-69, day 70-90 and day 91-105.

Kiehne used four reproductive outcomes for analysis: 1) abortions, culls and death; 2) farrowed and found open; 3) preg-check negative; or 4) repeat mating. The number of pigs weaned per sow was also determined for each animal enrolled in the study.

Positive outcomes in later gestation

The study verified Kiehne’s hypothesis that while administering Draxxin during early gestation is detrimental, it is beneficial during later gestation.

“Administering this antibiotic during early pregnancy appears to increase negative outcome events such as found open, preg-check negative and repeat mating,” Kiehne said.

“However, there appears to be an advantage to administering it in a PRRS virus situation after 50 days of gestation,” he continued. “This advantage is apparent in a reduction in abortions, stillborns and mummified fetuses and increase in total pigs weaned.”

Overall, the study found the percentage of sows that farrowed was higher for those given the Draxxin treatment at 68.5% versus 64.1% for the control sows with no antibiotic. Sows with abortions was lower for those receiving the Draxxin treatment at 17.4% versus 22.9% for the control group. Sows not pregnant was 6.9% for those given the Draxxin treatment and 6.7% for the control group. The deads and culls category was 7.2% for sows receiving the Draxxin treatment and 6.3% for the control group.

Weaned pigs per enrolled sow was calculated in each pregnancy group. In the early pregnancy stages, weaned pig averages were lower for sows receiving the Draxxin treatment compared to controls. After day 50 of gestation, the number of weaned pigs increased for sows receiving the Draxxin treatment compared to the control group.

In conclusion, Kiehne recommends administering the injectable antimicrobial Draxxin to sows after day 50 of gestation during a PRRS virus outbreak. However, administering it any earlier would be detrimental.

 

 

Pork industry struggled but found its footing during the COVID-19 crisis

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The pork industry entered one of its darkest periods in spring 2020 when COVID-19 forced the shutdown of several pork packing plants. Paul Yeske, DVM, Swine Vet Center in St. Peter, Minnesota, helped hog producers in the area work through the closures.

“Unfortunately, we were in the middle of the first plants that ended up closing,” Yeske said. “The biggest concern was that we didn’t know when the plants would open again, and we didn’t know [at] what capacity.

“As more things started to happen, the plants learned how to manage it more,” he continued. “I think that helped further down the road for people who were involved later to be less impacted.”

‘The wheels came off’

During the turmoil, the pork industry realized its efficient pork-producing and processing system had no room for errors.

“I think we learned just how good a system we had on a just-in-time delivery,” Yeske explained. “Producers and packers had been incentivized every step along the way to make the system more efficient and to have no slack in it.

“All of a sudden we couldn’t operate it, and then the wheels came off the wagon pretty fast.”

At that point, tough decisions faced producers, including euthanasia. “I think no one understands just how hard it is on people until they have to do it,” Yeske said. “No one can really appreciate that until they have to make that decision…and have to actually physically do the job.”

It was also something the pork industry thought it was ready to handle in the case of a foreign animal disease but really was not.

Best-laid plans gone awry

In 2019, Yeske was part of a table-top exercise with USDA to formulate plans for a foreign animal-disease outbreak. He said he thought they devised good plans to handle a catastrophe, but COVID-19 proved the plans were inadequate.

“Some of the things we thought we knew, we didn’t,” he said. “When you have to do a mass depopulation, you have to look at…how do we do it in a humane way? How do we do it in a safe way for the people? And how do we deal with the numbers?

“Ventilation shutdown was one of the things used in avian influenza outbreaks…It certainly was used here as well, but it’s not as easy as you think,” he added.

Always willing to innovate, the pork industry devised alternatives including the use of large-scale CO2. Trailers and later dump trailers with CO2 were among the best options, Yeske said. To help the pork industry, the state of Minnesota set up composting facilities to handle carcasses in two central locations, which could be done since no disease concern was involved.

Making the best of it

“I’d say today we’re probably better off to handle mass euthanasia if we have to than we were before, so that’s one of the good things that came out of this situation,” Yeske said.

Another positive is some farms used this time to reset herd health by closing and cleaning up.

Ironically, the spread of COVID-19 among hog farms was not a major issue. Hog farm staff already were well acquainted with biosecurity regimens and understood viral transmission of disease.

“The swine industry has been working on that for a number of years,” Yeske added. “I think we do have a leg up just because we had to deal with infectious disease for a long period of time, and we’ve got some good methods.”

Throughout the turmoil, Yeske says communication with everyone involved was crucial. “It takes a lot of communication and support…to make sure everybody understood what the goal was. We spent a lot of time on the phone talking to a lot of people, and I think that’s what it takes through those types of things…to make sure everybody’s at least understanding what’s going on.”