Coping with ASF

In the absence of an ASF vaccine, farmers have to look for other ways of prevention. ZAHRAH IMTIAZ spoke with some companies in the pig industry to find out how they are helping producers cope with the ASF crisis.

The main strategy is a strong focus on biosecurity. Companies have been working with swine farmers on training and improving biosecurity on-site to minimize ASF infections.

Dr Carlo U. Maala

German animal pharma company, Boehringer Ingelheim, has been focusing on diagnostics for early detection of disease and biosecurity on farms to prevent transmission.

Carlo Maala, BI Philippines Animal Health’s Global Strategic Marketing-Swine & Senior Technical Services Manager Swine-Asia, explained that in 2018 the company launched ‘ASF COMBAT’ – the ASF Comprehensive On-line Management and Biosecurity Assessment Tool.

“This is a unique App that helps farms identify the risk factors in their herd,” said Dr Maala.

David Gocken

“ASF COMBAT is also a WeChat-based tailor-made solution for Chinese customers,” added Mr Gocken whose special focus is on the Chinese market severely affected by ASF.

In collaboration with experts from China Veterinary Medical Association, BI has also compiled an ASF Manual focusing on biosecurity which was officially published in November 2019 by China Agriculture Press.

Biosecurity training

More recently, the company introduced ‘ASF Fortress’, a ‘Train the Trainer Program’, the alumni of which are trained Biosecurity Auditors who support the findings of the initial risk assessment on-farm.

“Other tools include an Integrated Health Management support that showcases unique equipment and gadgets on-farm that will help producers monitor their farm in terms of health and risk factor identification and mitigation,” explained Dr Maala.

As of end-2019, nearly 18,500 participants have attended Boehringer Ingelheim’s 449 biosecurity training sessions. Meanwhile, its veterinary professional staff has been delivering onsite support to over 50 farms and corporate groups to help them establish their biosecurity protocol and repopulate pigs.

Boehringer Ingelheim introduces ASF Manual in China.

Vaccine research

BI has also been sponsoring and collaborating on research into the ASF vaccine with institutes around the world. They have research teams in the US, Europe and China engaged in this challenge.

“The goal of these partnerships is both to grow our understanding by researching the immune response to ASF, and to design a safe and effective vaccine for global eradication,” David Gocken, BI’s Head of Animal Health in China, told Asian Agribiz.

Effective feed solutions

Achyuth Iyengar

In the feed additive space, Achyuth Iyengar, DSM Nutritional Products Asia Pacific Region’s Director Specialty Solutions, told Asian Agribiz that from the beginning, they have been “ensuring ever-stricter internal biosecurity protocols at our production plants and through our ingredient supply chain. This is important given the possibility of ASF spreading through contaminated feed.”

“We also offer training on the biosecurity lessons learned to our farmers and mill customers so they too can keep all viruses and diseases at bay in their businesses,” said Mr Iyengar.

Apart from that, DSM is also focusing on products and solutions that aim to improve the immunity and nutritional support for the pigs. Nutritional status can have a direct impact on the body’s immunity.

“Good micronutrition, starting with right vitamin level in feed, is crucial to improving the immunity of the herd under the current epidemic challenge,” he added.

DSM products have been designed under the PRESHIS herd concept, reinforcing the value of each herd by their need to be: Productive (more pigs sold); Robust (able to fight off challenges); Efficient (improved feed use); Strong (long life from optimal skeletal growth); Healthy (less disease impact); Innovative (taking up new ways in a new world) and Sustainable (producing well in a greening world).