Quality Meat Scotland pushes pig disease checks

The Scottish Pig industry and Quality Meat Scotland have developed a health declaration form in order to avoid thousands of pounds of losses through disease in the national pig herd.

Known as the 'health declaration project', this simple form-signing approach aims to ensure growing and breeding stock, and semen, imported into Scotland originate from a farm of known health status.

A group of advisors including Jamie Robertson (Livestock Management Systems), David Strachan (Wholesome Pigs, Scottish Agricultural College Veterinary Services), Jill Thomson (Scottish Agricultural College), Grace Webster (Meadows Veterinary Centre) and Allan Ward (Quality Meat Scotland) have developed the health declaration form.

The form requires the source herd of any imported animals to sign a statement of the health status of their herd to specific diseases, based on herd and abattoir inspections, and laboratory testing.

Pig genetics companies provide health information, but the advisors identified the need for a standard declaration that describes health status as accurately as possible before material is imported into Scotland.

According to Roberston: "The majority of our pig exports are as prime foods, and most of the small volumes of imports are live animals for genetics. These animals represent one of the highest risks of importing disease to the Scottish herd.

"Whilst breeding stock tends to be relatively high health, the fact remains that the main route of pig disease transmission between farms is by live animals and their transport."

The penalty of disease introduction can be high. A disease such as enzootic pneumonia introduced into a herd can cost up to £30,000 a year.

Download a Health Declaration form here.

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