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AASV: Outbreaks offer opportunities for improvement

The Maschhoff's assess biosecurity risks on their farms

26 May 2020, at 8:00am

Dr. Jay Miller, Vice President of Health and Operations at the Maschhoff’s, shared how the company identifies biosecurity risk and how they make improvements in their system with veterinarians at the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) annual conference in Atlanta.

Dr. Jay Miller, Vice President of Health and Operations at the Maschhoff’s, spoke to The Pig Site's Sarah Mikesell at the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

“A key message we want to express is that there are multiple ways to identify risks to our systems,” said Dr. Miller. “The presentations ahead of mine were more based on resolving an outbreak. My presentation includes ways to prevent the outbreak of a disease. We focus very heavily on biosecurity. And to continue to make improvements in our system, we monitor the risks that are at our breed-to-wean facilities.”

The risks are gathered by several different methods using assessments on an annual basis. They use remote video auditing (RVA), and then compile all the risks to see what improvements need to be done, creating a biosecurity matrix. The matrix is a list of all of their assets, along with all the different procedures and improvements that could be done to reduce risk to those farms.

“Once we have the matrix, we take those assessments and decide based on costs which ones we can afford to do,” he explained. “Some are very inexpensive and take very little effort, and we will implement those right away. Others take a significant amount of capital improvement and we'll fill out a CER - a capital expense request - to make those improvements on our farms.”

Outbreak Can Be Opportunity for Change

Diseases are very costly to farms. It's harmful for the pig herd and financially for the industry. When an outbreak occurs, Maschhoffs does a very thorough investigation. They look for the root cause of the outbreak to try to help prevent it in the future. Unfortunately, outbreak answers are often elusive. However, they’ve found a lot of opportunities for improvement in the processes of biosecurity and in their breed-to-wean assets. Though not always financially rewarding, investigations often offer significant opportunities for improvement.

“I have a wonderful team of veterinarians and animal care associates that will continue to monitor our farms on a regular basis on these visits,” said Dr Miller. “It’s a team effort to come together on a quarterly basis and make an effort to say, ‘hey, what are the biosecurity improvements that we need to push or improve on our farms?’”

Dr Miller advises the importance of creating a routine to assess farms and ensuring farmers are looking at opportunities to keep the risk events to a minimum. Execution of the basics, such as showers, UV chambers and using clean trucks is vital to the safety and security of the farm.