Swine diseases transmitted by birds
Birds, such as sparrows, starlings, and crows are most common at pig farms during the wintertime, late fall, and early spring. Their droppings can contaminate the feed, the floors, and the pig’s bedding. The birds can transmit the virus when feeding and shed it in their droppings, with most swine diseases being transmittable for up to 36 hours1.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, birds undeniably transmit 5 major swine diseases2:
1) Avian tuberculosis
2) Transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE)
4) Porcine reproductive respiratory syndrome (PRRS)
Factors impacting transmission
The first factor to impact pig disease transmission is the type of wild birds, such as starlings, sparrows, and crows, which are known as insectivorous birds. These birds feed mainly on insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. As insectivorous birds swoop down to search for food (pig feed or insects) at ground level, they can transmit diseases through their feet, saliva, and droppings during and after feeding.
The second factor is the feeding habits of pigs. When pigs feed on the ground, this can increase the risk of insectivorous birds spreading diseases as they predominantly eat and search for food on the ground too.
How to protect your pigs from swine diseases?
There are some common strategies that pig farms utilize to reduce bird presence; these consist of scaring mechanisms such as kites, decoy birds, and acoustic scarers. Many birds become used to the sounds or sights of the scaring mechanisms and no longer retreat. Netting is also a widespread technique. However, this is not always cost-effective and has to be well maintained.
A more recent automated solution for pig farms is the laser bird repellent system. Livestock farms are using the system as an automated biosecurity measure. As birds land on the ground to feed, a green laser beam swoops towards the wild birds, and they perceive the laser as a solid object. The green laser light triggers the danger aspect instinctively, and the birds feel they are under attack. This causes them to depart from the area within seconds.
Effective results at a livestock farm
Poultry farm, Orchard Eggs, located in the UK, deployed the laser bird repellent system as a biosecurity measure to prevent the spread of diseases. Orchard Eggs struggled to use traditional methods to protect over 50 acres of chicken pastures from bird flu. The farm was too large to use netting, and their biodynamic agricultural practices required their flocks to roam freely 24/7.
Orchard Eggs achieved a 96% reduction in wild bird presence. The laser bird deterrent significantly reduced the potential risk of exposure to bird flu and improved cleaning costs, sanitation, and personal safety.
Wageningen University and Research trialed the laser deterrent system on a Dutch free-range poultry farm to see if they could remove the threat of avian influenza contamination from wild birds. Dr. Armin Elbers, the senior epidemiologist at Wageningen University and Research, said the current study was looking at scaring wild ducks4 and other wild birds through a laser on a platform 6 meters above ground level.
The initial results showed that researchers saw no wild birds in the pastures during the day when the laser was in operation. Grass in surrounding areas was more abundant due to the decreased presence of geese, and without the laser, wild ducks quickly returned.
To see how the AVIX Autonomic works in action, watch the full video below.