Basic clinical examination of the farm


These notes are provided as an overall guide to the clinical examination of the whole farm.  The notes take you through a typical farrowing to finish farm visit


Getting to the farm

Examine the farm records and arrange the visit.  This may even be done at the last  visit, but needs at least 2 weeks notice

Ensure your own biosecurity is adequate – truck clean.  It is imperative that you are not a risk – real or perceived to the farm

Examine the surrounding area for local farms.  As you approach the farm – especially on the 1st visit.  Drive around the farm locality.

The locality of the farm will have a significant impact on the presence of diseases on the farm

Entering the farm

Walk the farm’s outer perimeter, ensuring that the perimeter is secure.  Note areas which can be improved – can feed trucks be kept off?

Examine the entry facilities, does the klaxon or horn work and attract attention.  Are restriction notices clear?

Abide by farm biosecurity rules.  Ensure that the biosecurity notices are well posed.

Use farm’s outer clothing.  As an absolute minimum do not wear our own outer-clothing, always wear farm clothing or disposable overalls.

In addition to farm outer clothing, boots or protective foot wear should be provided by the farm

Discuss farm targets and expectations in the farm office.  In particular review pig flow and all-in/all-out.  Sign the visitors book


Medicine check

Check cold medicine storage include max/min thermometer.  The fridge must run at 2-8C.  Freezing of vaccines will cause inactivation.

Check warm medicine storage

Hygiene and medicine use.  Many antibiotics have a max. storage temperature of 25C.  This may be difficult in the summer

Check needle, syringe and disposal systems.   Medicine products must be kept away from children at all times. Disposal through the routine trash is not acceptable

Teeth clippers and other instruments used in processing.  Ensure all protocols are followed.

Injection techniques the picture shows a neck abscess 

Pig identification systems including pre-slaughter.   Look for evidence of poor pig identification which can falsify records

Farm building examination – for each building an overall check is required

Check outside the of the buildings

Outside security.  Rodent control is a vital part of disease control.  Ensure there are no rodent access points.  Are rodent boxes full of bait?

Outside Ventilation system.  The inlets and outlets need to be visually inspected from the outside.  Bird nest and obstructions are common findings

Feed may be stored in a variety of places.  Commonly bulk feed is stored in a bin.  Climb up to the top of the bin and examine the bin’s hygiene and cleaning protocols?

Vermin control – rodents, birds, flies and pets

Examine pigs without entering building

Room biosecurity.  Foot baths need to be clean

Note the sleeping pattern of the undisturbed pigs.  Quietly enter the room and observe any biosecurity arrangements

Enter building

Review the basic environmental necessities.  This needs the clinician to understand the basic husbandry requirements of water, food, floor and air for each age group of pig.  The clinical examination of stock is covered in detail next.  The clinician must realize that the level of investigation expected of the stock is the same required to investigate the environment.





Stock – healthy and sick pigs

Stockpeople/pig behavior

Progressively examine the farm using the above scheme for each building

The farm walk needs a protocol.  The following is a suggested walk to minimise the spread of potential disease pathogens by following the pig flow from birth to finish.

Farrowing area

Sow breeding area

Gilt breeding area

AI storage area

Gestation area

Hot Nursery

Cold Nursery



Hospital pens/areas

Examine animal loading and entry points

During visit explain your observations to the staff

Dead animal disposal – picture shows composting

Isolation area may need change of clothing etc

Prepare and send the report – within a working week