Fever outbreak would wipe out Australia's purebred pigs

Fever outbreak would wipe out Australia's purebred pigs

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CAUTION: Rare and pure bred pig "custodian" Katy Brown, pictured with Tamworth and Duroc piglets, says an outbreak of African Swine Fever would wipe out Australia's already under pressure pure bred pig population.

CAUTION: Rare and pure bred pig "custodian" Katy Brown, pictured with Tamworth and Duroc piglets, says an outbreak of African Swine Fever would wipe out Australia's already under pressure pure bred pig population.

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The eight pure breeds of pig remaining in Australia, many numbering less than 200, are vulnerable to an outbreak of African Swine Fever.

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It's safer to assume that African Swine Fever is already here and take all measures with that in mind, according to rare pig breed custodian, Katy Brown.

The northern Victoria-based breeder said pig producers, large and small, should brace for the arrival of ASF.

Ms Brown said that if ASF arrived in Australia, it would wipe out the already critically scarce rare breeds and pure breeds.

It would also be the last straw for many smaller, family operated pig enterprises, she said.

ASF presented a difficult foe for the pig industry and "every individual has a big responsibility" in responding to the threat.

"There is no cure, no vaccine, no treatment," she said.

"I have been following the outbreak of the disease since it started in China. I am interested in the progression of pig diseases, how they spread and how they manage them," she said.

With different strains of ASF - acute (sudden death) and chronic (gradual signs) - the chronic strains were not likely to be detected immediately, she said.

"During that time it's business as usual. We need to look at anything that looks different as it pops up we need to assume it is an ASF issue," she said.

"Even though it probably isn't, we need to change our way of thinking and put processes in place immediately."

She said there was an increase in detection of positive tests to ASF in illegal meat.

Ms Brown said the decision to cancel the pig exhibition at this year's Bendigo Show came when she decided the risk was too great.

"I didn't want it to be on my conscience," she said.

Ms Brown said that individuals had a responsibility to educate themselves about the disease and to educate non-pig people as much as possible.

"We need to consider each risky movement we do and try to check yourself every time," she said.

"It's a big responsibility being a custodian of these rare and pure breeds," she said.

"No live pigs, semen, embryos or eggs can be brought in for biosecurity reasons . This is why the eight pure breeds are so important and many exist in numbers less than 200."

Ms Brown said that her herd was split over three properties with all the grower-pigs not required as breeders now at a third site.

"This will ensure that movement to the abattoir, etc., does not effect the biosecurity of the two main breeder herds. This has increased costs and time but is a good move as far as biosecurity goes," she said.

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