PED can hide out in manure lagoons

Your herd can be free.

Your barn can be free.

Your fields can be free.

But your farm might still not be free of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus.

That’s something hog producers need to keep in mind as they manage the multi-year impacts of PED, which can survive in manure lagoons long after the rest of the farm appears clear.

“You can have a situation where the health status of your herd is different than the health status of your lagoon,” said Tricia Schmalenberg of Maple Leaf Foods during the Manitoba Swine Seminar.

“There are different things we need to do to be able to protect the herd and make sure we’re not creating a risk of re-infecting the herd or spreading the virus to other farms in the area.”

Schmalenberg outlined the approach Maple Leaf and other major Manitoba hog producers have taken in dealing with PED, which has been appearing sporadically for years.

That approach includes managing risk from manure applicators coming from other farms, managing risk on-farm from applicators and farm staff, and managing and designing farms to keep risks at a minimum.

“We’ve realized that we have to come up with a strategy that is sustainable in the long-run.”

Before the disease became widespread in 2017, most in the industry believed that outbreaks would be intense but short, and eliminated once it was cleaned out of animals and barns.

But in the years since, manure lagoons have proven to be capable of keeping PED alive for years. That means when those lagoons are emptied and the manure spread, there is a risk of bringing the disease back from the lagoon to the barns.

To reduce that risk, producers must minimize possible routes of re-infection.

Those include:

  • Having applicator trucks washed down before coming on-farm.
  • Keeping applicators away from farm staff and on-farm travel.
  • Keeping staff flow away from areas that might have been in contact with infected manure or machinery that have come in contact with it.
  • Favouring boat- or subsurface-agitation of liquid manure so that PED isn’t made aerosol.

Just knowing that PED can survive in manure is important because many people still don’t realize this, Schmalenberg said.

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