If you have spent time in and around the agriculture business, chances are that you have heard the phrase “biosecurity” used before.
“Biosecurity is the precautionary measures taken on a livestock operation to prevent the introduction of new diseases,” said Dr. Craig Payne, associate professor of Veterinary Medicine for the University of Missouri Extension. “A component of biosecurity is bio-containment, which refers to the actions we take to prevent the spread of disease if it’s already present on an operation or there is an accidental introduction.”
Keeping your farm or ranch disease free should be a top priority as a livestock producer. With a little preparation and preventative measures, you can put biosecurity to work for you.
“With proper biosecurity a farmer reduces chances of disease or parasite infestation to their livestock. Diseases can be brought in on contaminated footwear and clothing, perhaps even on our hands,” said Ann Horsman of Meadowlands Farm in Niangua, Mo.
She advocates that “all ranchers and farmers should make an effort to educate visitors and also, at minimum, apply a disinfectant to all footwear before allowing any access to barn yard areas,” she said.
Disease transportation can cause devastating losses on livestock, or very expensive veterinary treatment if good biosecurity measures are not adhered to. Crop loss can also be a major issue without preventive biosecurity measures. Ensuring that visitors have clean footwear and clothing before entering crop areas can help limit the spread of seeds and disease from aggressive non-native or exotic invasive plants to your fields.
There are several ways that you can implement good biosecurity practices on your own farm or ranch.
“Maximize herd immunity by providing adequate nutrition, minimizing stressors, controlling parasites, and implementing a vaccine program designed by your herd veterinarian,” Payne suggested.
Quarantine is also a very effective biosecurity measure, one that Horsman uses regularly in her poultry operation.
“I follow strict quarantine programs for incoming stock,” she said. “New fowl are penned separately for a month to observe their health status. All new fowl are de-parasitized immediately before being placed in a quarantine pen. I apply a liquid Ivermectin to the skin of each new bird. They are then placed in a suitable pen where they cannot have physical contact with the other fowl on the property.”
Horsman observes the new fowl daily to make sure they exhibit no signs of illness, are eating well and remaining hydrated. Only after they pass a quarantine period does she release them to the designated flock and pasture area on her farm. Payne recommends testing stock for high-impact diseases such as Trichomoniasis or Bovine Virus Diarrhea Virus (BVDV) after the quarantine period.
General cleanliness is also vital to maintaining a solid biosecurity program within your livestock operation. “Keep feeding equipment, housing facilities, and animal handling facilities as clean as possible,” Payne said.
Horsman recommends maintaining dry bedding areas and roosting areas for livestock to help prevent the spread of disease. Making a simple disinfectant solution of household bleach and water for shoes, clothing and other supplies that have or could have come into contact with contaminated animals can also aid in disease prevention.
Making sure you have good biosecurity practices in place can save you a lot of time, trouble and money down the road.


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