Integrated livestock industries like swine and poultry already maintain strict biosecurity measures on the farm; similar practices are also making their way onto cattle ranches.
“I toured a Tyson swine facility one time,” University of Arkansas associate department head for animal science Tom Troxel told Ozarks Farm & Neighbor, “and they asked that I not visit a swine facility up to three days before I visited their facility. So they have those guidelines, and they certainly enforce them.”
Troxel noted the comparisons between swine or poultry enterprises and beef cattle don’t always apply. For instance, cattle ranchers typically isolate new animals from the rest of the herd for about 30 days, to ensure they aren’t exposing their other cattle to undetected diseases. But in a hog confinement or chicken house, Troxel said, “The animals are ‘all in and all out.’ Once they bring all those animals in at one time, new animals are not generally introduced.”
Another difference is the fact swine and poultry are kept indoors. As Troxel noted, “There are some situations where disease might come onto the farm inadvertently, from a feed truck coming through or just your next-door neighbor, or cattle nosing each other across the fence. You cannot do everything to stop all of the contact, but you can surely take care of the obvious.”
One way to do that, said University of Arkansas Extension Veterinarian Jeremy Powell, is to restrict traffic to and from your farm to a single route.  “That way,” he said, “that would be a limited spot on your farm where people are driving, and would limit the amount of potential germs that can be picked up and spread.”
That addresses visitors, but the operator himself can also be a source of infection. Powell said, “You can haul diseases home with you from other farms, or from the county fair or from a sale facility if you’re selling livestock. So, it’s important to remember disinfectant and trying to clean shoes or boots that you’ve worn around another set of animals.” You can also carry pathogens home on your clothing or truck tires, or on equipment that may have been in contact with other livestock.
Humans are not known to pass disease to livestock; although the reverse can be true, Troxel says that’s not the case with common strains of influenza. The new flu strain, H1N1, was labeled “swine flu” when it was first reported, and that’s reduced pork demand despite the best efforts by international health officials and the U.S. government to assure consumers the meat was safe.
But because other diseases can be transmitted to humans, Troxel urged livestock handlers to stay as clean as possible. “Don’t put your hands in your mouth, or rub your eyes,” he warned. “Those are good places for bacteria to get in. Wash your hands well before you eat; all of us have been lax at that working cattle one time or another.”
Other species, though, can be vectors by which livestock can contract disease; Powell conceded there’s not much that can be done about wildlife. “You’re not going to stop deer from jumping fences and grazing in the same pastures as your cows,” he said, “or limit access of coyotes to your farm, or rodents, raccoons or birds. You can’t control everything, but you can certainly make an effort to control what you can, and that would thereby hopefully limit the likelihood of causing some type of disease outbreak.”
One of those methods is inoculation.  Powell said, “We can protect our animals against many diseases that are transmissible from animal to animal, or from wildlife to livestock, just by vaccinating them.” Among the common diseases beef cattle producers vaccinate for are clostridium diseases such as blackleg, reproductive diseases like leptospirosis and trichomoniasis, and respiratory diseases like IBR, BVD and PI3 diseases.
Most Arkansas producers, Powell said, are aware that prevention requires dedication. The state’s poultry raisers, he noted, “do a good job of trying to keep biosecurity as one of the main concerns for the operation, just so they don’t have any issue with a devastating disease affecting production. I think a lot of livestock producers are the same way; they try to make a conscious effort to control as much as they can.”


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