Biosecurity involves implementing management practices to protect the health of animals on your farm.
It involves:

1. Measures taken to reduce the risk of disease coming into your farm from outside (bioexclusion)
2. Measures taken to decrease the spread of disease within the herd (biocontainment)

Many diseases are carried and spread by animals that appear healthy – these are carrier animals. Maintaining a closed herd is the gold standard, but this is often not possible.

Remember you do not have a closed herd if you:

  • Buy in a bull
  • Borrow bulls
  • Exhibit at shows
  • Share cattle handling facilities
  • Return unsold cattle back into the herd
  • Have poor boundary fences
  • Use common grazing or housing

Principle practices within your farm to improve biosecurity

  • Maintain good boundary fences, that is a double fence, 5 metres apart.
  • Avoid nose to nose contact with neighbouring cattle
  • Keep farm visitors to a minimum, and if visitors are essential ensure that they use footbaths and disinfect clothing.
  • Keep contact between visitors and stock to a minimum
  • Keep dead stock collection away from the live stock areas
  • If you do use contractors, insist that that al machinery is clean on entry to the farm.

Purchase of cattle

Purchasing of cattle is one of the most likely ways of introducing disease onto your farm. However, this is often necessary in the management of some farms.

So what do yo do to minimise the risks? – we can help you draw up a plan specific to your farm and to suit your needs and management practices. A brief outline would be as follows:

Step 1. Draw up a plan
Step 2. Buy as few animals as possible
Step 3. Buy from as few herds as possible – the more herds you buy from, the more potential disease you are exposed to.
Step 4. Select from low risk herds.

Do not be afraid to ask the questions:

  • Do they buy in cattle
  • What do they vaccinate for?
  • When do they vaccinate?
  • Have they recent results of screening tests in bulk milk or blood?
  • Ask about TB, Johnes, IBR, Lepto, Neospora, Salmonella, BVD.

Step 5. Buy only low risk animals.

All animals do not carry the same risk of introducing disease into your herd, and tests do not always identify high risk animals.
So look for:

  • Clear test results
  • Vaccination history
  • Dosing history
  • SCC
  • Animals free of obvious disease

Step 6. Reduce transport risks. Use clean disinfected transport boxes, transport directly from the vendors farm to your own.

Step 7. Put new animals in quarantine. Quarantine means the animals are in complete isolation form the rest of the herd and do not share the same airspace. The home herd should have no contact with slurry or bedding from quarantined animals. Separate feeding equipment and clothing should be used.

A period of 4 weeks quarantine is recommended. This period allows you time to test for specific diseases, carry out any vaccinations deemed necessary and allows you time to monitor the health status of the animals over this period.

Only when you are satisfied with their health, have carried out vaccinations allowing adequate time for antibody levels to be established and have negative results to all tests carried out should you then allow these animals to join your herd.

We will help you to decide

  • What to test for
  • What vaccinations to use
  • What doses to use
  • Carry out a clinical examination of these animals to protect your herd from the introduction of infectious disease.

Obviously the above is only a brief outline and a more detailed plan tailored to your farm and needs is what is required. We can draw this up in conjunction with you and do a risk assessment of your farm and quarantine facilities and carry out tests as required.

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