Biosecurity refers to strategies and management practices that lessen biological risk. On a ruminant farm, attention to biosecurity is the most important measure to reduce and prevent the introduction of diseases or pests of animals and plants. Biosecurity practices also minimize the spread of diseases or pests within a farm system.
Farm biosecurity can also be defined as a set of measures designed to protect a property from the entry and spread of pests and diseases. Farm biosecurity is your responsibility, and that of every person visiting or working on your property.
Many aspects of biosecurity are common sense, but if these strategies and practices are not enforced consistently, there is a greater risk of introducing animal or plant diseases and facing their accompanying economic costs.
Below are some of the management practices to be carried out to ensure better security on your ruminant farm: thou the answer to this question is multifactoral as the nature of security measures to put in place will be determined by the location of your farm.
For instance, how far it is from residential areas:
First: it is advisable to make a fence round your farm.
Second: there must be someone always on the farm.
Third: if someone is employed to take the animals round for grazing, the person must be traceable.
For example: the person must have a guarantor. Also, depending on the size of your farm, having a night guard is not a bad decision. All other security measures as may be deemed fit from time to time should also be put in place.
Structures to be attached to Ruminant Farm Housing to improve bio-security
As part of the structures to be attached to a ruminant housing is a dipping vat. This is where the ruminants will dip their feet each time they are returning from grazing. This is to prevent their introducing diseases to the farm from the outside.
This also serves to disinfect them and control ectoparasites whenever necessary. Also, there should be a foot bath at the entrance of the farm and at the entrance of each of the pens.
This is to disinfect the feed of people entering the farm and also serves to disinfect vehicles going in and out of the farm. Other structures can be attached as may be advised by your consultant.
How Often to Replace Water in dipping vats and foot baths
The water should be replaced at least once a day. Once a day should be okay for dipping vats whereas it may be more for foot baths depending on the number of people and vehicles entering the farm, the water should be changed immediately it gets dirty.
Whenever dipping vats is used for disinfection and control of ectoparasites, the rate of change of water and disinfectants should depend on the recommendation of your Consultant.
Biosecurity practices on livestock farms and ranches include sanitation, animal management, feed management, facility maintenance, manure handling, and disposal of dead animals.
The following is a list of best practices:
1) Proper Sanitation on the Ruminant Farm House
- Provide on-farm laundry facilities for all employees.
- Encourage employees to wash farm clothing with detergents and bleach.
- Have employees wash their hands before and after milking animals, working with sick animals, and working with young animals.
- Provide gloves when frequent cleaning between animals is necessary.
- Have workers wear some type of medical exam gloves when helping with births.
- Order tasks so employees work with younger animals before working with older animals. Young animals are susceptible to diseases carried by older animals.
- Clean and disinfect equipment that has been used on sick animals before using on healthy animals.
- Clean and disinfect hoof knives, clippers, tattoo pliers, ear taggers, ear notchers and dehorners between uses.
- Use the farm’s own halters and clippers whenever possible.
- Sanitize nursing bottles and buckets before each feeding.
- Don’t use equipment that has handled manure for transporting or delivering feed.
Vehicle and Transport Sanitation
- Make sure visitor and service vehicles don’t drive over feed delivery or manure handling routes.
- Locate holding pens for animal pickups near the road and away from the herd and barn areas.
- Keep visitor vehicles out of areas that are accessible to livestock.
- Have visitors move from younger to older animal groups when touring the farm.
- Ensure that bedding in trucks is clean and ample when moving livestock to prevent both injuries and disease.
- Wash and disinfect the outside, inside, and especially the tires of vehicles that transport livestock to other farms.
- Scrub off any visible dirt before thoroughly disinfecting boots.
- Soak boots in a clean solution of disinfectant mixed according to the product’s directions.
- Provide disposable booties for visitors and dispose on site.
2) Ruminant Farm Animal Management
- Keep ruminant farm animals that are new to the farm in a separate holding area. A quarantine period should be established to facilitate monitoring and testing the health status of new animals. This will also help to prevent the spread of diseases to the existing herd from animals that might be harboring a disease without exhibiting any clinical signs.
- Young animals should be kept in a separate area from more mature animals to minimize the exposure of more susceptible animals.
- Keep an isolation area that is intended for only sick animals.
- Meet the standards for pen, stall, or bedded area space per animal in your care.
- Always handle sick animals last.
- Vaccinate farm dogs and cats against rabies to protect humans and animals. Consider vaccinating livestock, too.
- Prevent fence line contact between your livestock and other animals.
- Remove manure and bedding and disinfect pens, especially maternity and sick pens, between animals.
3) Feed Management
- Keep food storage areas inaccessible to rodents, birds, dogs, cats, and any wildlife.
- Repeatedly check for and dispose of moldy or spoiled material in silos, bins, and bunks.
- Place or empty opened bags into containers that have tight lids to protect from pests and water.
- Clean storage areas frequently.
- Remove and dispose of feed refusals if not consumed within 24 hours.
- Store bags of feed off the floor on pallets.
- Rotate feed inventory to reduce the presence of harmful organisms or toxins in stored feeds.
- Clean waterers once a week.
- Protect all water sources and containers from animal carcasses (e.g. dead birds or vermin) and manure.
4) Facility Maintenance
- Be wary of rodent dens and hiding places. Set baits and traps where necessary.
- Repair holes in buildings to prevent entry of pests.
- Check for weather damage and fix anything that needs to be repaired.
- Remove any standing water that can turn into a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Check and maintain fences.
- Replace bird netting if needed.
5) Manure Handling
- Ensure the manure handling system prevents environmental contamination and complies with your state’s accepted agricultural practices.
- Use equipment to handle manure that is not used for feed.
- Compost or store manure in conditions that destroy disease-causing bacteria.
- Remove manure frequently to prevent the completion of life cycles of flies and intestinal parasites.
- Store manure so that it is inaccessible to livestock, especially young animals.
- Prevent run-off or transfer of manure from older to younger groups of animals.
- Avoid tracking manure through feed bunks.
6) Disposal of Dead Animals
- Dispose of carcasses promptly. Options for disposal include calling a licensed deadstock collector, burial in an approved animal disposal pit, or composting.
- Check with local and state authorities regarding disposal regulations in your area.
- Call a veterinarian prior to disposal if the animal exhibited neurological signs prior to death.
Steps of Prevention:
- Limit non-essential traffic on the farm.
- Allow only clean, disinfected vehicles on your property.
- Keep a record of all farm visitors.
- Have only one entrance/exit.
- Provide disposable footwear.
- Keep other animals and strangers off the property.
- Only buy livestock from a reputable dealer.
- New animals to the farm should be quarantined for 2 weeks, minimize co-mingling.
- Keep show animals segregated for two weeks after the fair.
- Use separate equipment for health and sick animals.
- Look for signs of infectious diseases.
- Report sick animals.
- Don’t bring unwanted germs into your farm.
- Keep a separate pair of boots for use on the farm, around your animals.
- Require disposable footwear for any visitors.
- Keep a footbath with a disinfectant solution on hand (4 oz bleach, 1 gallon water).
- Spray disinfectant on all vehicle and trailer tires before returning to the farm.
- Discourage visitors who have been to foreign countries in the last 7 days.
- Don’t borrow tools or equipment from other farms.
Report Signs of Disease Immediately:
State veterinarians will work with you at no charge to take samples for diagnostic tests. Early reporting is critical to the health and safety of your herd/flock and the future of our industry.
Signs of Disease:
- Sudden, unexplained death in the herd/flock.
- Severe illness affecting a high percentage of animals.
- Blisters around an animal’s mouth, nose, hooves.
- Staggering, falling or nervous system disorders that prevent animals from rising or walking normally.
Read Also: Stocking Management for Ruminant Animals
Assessing Visitor Risk and Controlling Access
Risk assessment is a method of determining the likelihood and severity of the risk posed by a visitor. By identifying key risk factors, appropriate procedures and protocols can be determined.
Biosecurity Guidelines for Visitor Control
- Provide a farm gate sign indicating biosecurity levels in effect on the farm. Place restricted entry notices on the doors to animal facilities.
- Keep service vehicles as far away from the animal facilities as feasible. Designate a parking area for vehicles entering the farm, away from traffic areas used by farm vehicles and away from feed and manure. Visitors’ vehicles should be visibly clean of manure and organic matter.
- Establish one area of the farm for visitors to enter if required. All visitors should go directly to the entry point. Consider installing a bell or alarm system for visitors to indicate their arrival.
- Keep a visitor log or record of the names, dates and vehicles that visit.
- Determine if, when and what types of farms have been visited prior to your farm. As a precaution, 48 hours may be required between visits (1 week for foreign visitors).
- Restrict access to animal facilities to essential visitors only. Keep visitors out of animal pens and feed alleys, and do not allow direct contact with animals if not essential.
- Insist on clean clothing and/or supply clean boots and clothing at your farm.
- Do not allow foods of animal origin to be brought onto the premises.
- Provide a container or plastic bag for collecting dirty clothing or disposable items used by visitors.
- Ask visitors to wash their hands prior to leaving the premises, especially if in contact with animals. If hosting tours, provide handwashing facilities or disinfectant hand gel. If food is to be served, do this away from the animal facilities and after handwashing.
- Provide a footbath and a container of an appropriate disinfectant solution with a scrub brush at the entrance to each facility. Maintain these with daily cleaning, remove accumulated organic matter and replenish disinfectant regularly. Footbaths alone are not an effective means of disinfecting footwear.
- Ensure all equipment used by visitors has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and stored appropriately before being used on your premises. Also clean and disinfect all borrowed equipment and tools prior to use on your farm and before returning them.
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