Valdosta Daily Times


May 3, 2014

Hog farmers live on edge with deadly virus



Even in good times, a hog farm isn’t the sort of place a visitor simply strolls into unannounced. These farms rely on strict biosecurity measures to keep their vulnerable nurseries safe from disease.

At Two Mile Pork in Monroe City, for example, workers and visitors already were required to shower and change into farm-provided clothing before entering the facility.

But with the new virus stalking the nation, farms such as Two Mile have been forced to re-evaluate, and in some cases tighten, their precautions. Particularly when it comes to the heart of the operation — the sow farm.

An outbreak wouldn’t knock the farm out of business. But it would claim the lives of thousands of young pigs, while inflicting considerable financial damage.

“We used to pride ourselves on farm tours,” Hays said. “But we had to stop those.”

The closest thing to a tour these days is pulling over on the dirt road running along the southern border of the farm, where 4,400 sows turn out 300 piglets each day. From the road, you can see the largest of the four barns and the one most vulnerable to the virus. The birthing barn stretches more than 600 feet, broken into 19 rooms, each with 48 sows.

With few exceptions, the only people allowed inside are the farm’s 25 employees. The only vehicles permitted on site are feed delivery trucks and those belonging to workers. Supplies bound for the farm are fumigated with disinfectant before being carried inside.

Two Mile also keeps an office in town, away from the sow farm and finishing sites scattered across the area.

Across the street from the office is the local feed supplier, Farmers Elevator & Exchange.

The company’s drivers carry large bottles of disinfectant to clean their tires after every delivery. They use disposable shoe covers at every stop to avoid transferring anything from one farm to another.

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