Denmark Sets a High Standard for ASF Biosecurity

Efforts to keep foreign animal diseases out of the United States have intensified in recent years, and similar measures are being adopted by other major pork-producing nations. Denmark, one of the world’s largest pork producers, offers a notable example of robust biosecurity protocols.

Sergiy Panasyuk, an export manager for ACO Funki—a leading European supplier of modern pig farming technologies—highlights Denmark’s proactive approach. Panasyuk, whose current focus includes Italy, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, previously worked extensively with Asian countries and has seen the devastating impact of African swine fever (ASF) firsthand.

In Denmark, the average hog farm now houses 800 to 1,000 sows, with many farmers owning multiple farms. The country boasts around a million sows in total, producing approximately 33 to 34 million piglets annually, of which about 15 million are exported as 30-kilo weaners.

Panasyuk outlines Denmark’s standard biosecurity measures: “In most places, you need to shower before entering the farm. You must change clothes, and personal items are left in the locker room. Many farms use UV-exposed locks for items like medicine and consumables, and some also heat-treat feed to eliminate viruses.”

As the threat of ASF grows, Denmark’s pork industry continues to enhance its biosecurity protocols. Panasyuk notes the heightened awareness and increased measures being implemented across the country. “With ASF creeping closer to the Danish border, there’s much more vigilance. Older farms have upgraded their biosecurity, making it much harder to access farms now.”

Government involvement has also increased. Panasyuk explains, “The government understands that an ASF outbreak would severely impact our pork and piglet exports, a multi-billion-dollar industry. We’ve established a fence along the German border to keep wild boars out, which are significant ASF carriers. Fortunately, Denmark does not have wild boars, a crucial advantage in controlling the spread.”

Denmark has stringent emergency protocols for suspected outbreaks. Trucks transporting piglets to countries like Poland and Germany must undergo thorough washes with strict controls before re-entering Denmark. In the event of an outbreak, the response from both the government and the pork industry would be swift and decisive, including containment measures and culling within affected perimeters.

Despite the strong measures, Panasyuk acknowledges room for improvement at the farm level. However, Denmark’s geographical advantages, such as its limited land border with Germany and surrounding waters, aid in containment efforts. The current strategy focuses on preventing ASF from entering Denmark, but this will adapt if the virus breaches the border.

In the U.S., pork organizations collaborate with local, state, and federal governments to prevent foreign animal diseases from entering the country. This includes ongoing communication with global partners. Dusty Oedekoven, chief veterinarian for the National Pork Board, emphasizes that the threat of ASF often correlates with a country’s GDP—higher GDP nations tend to have fewer issues with ASF.

To safeguard against such diseases, the U.S. pork industry has developed the Secure Pork Supply plan and the U.S. Swine Health Improvement plan, both crucial for maintaining biosecurity.

Denmark’s example underscores the importance of stringent biosecurity measures and continuous improvement to protect the pork industry from devastating diseases like ASF.