Extension experts advise producers to quarantine new animals in an effort to reduce infectious diseases
New animals should be quarantined for 30 to 45 days before being introduced to the flock or herd to prevent the possible spread of virus or bacteria.
Heidi Ward, extension veterinarian for the University of Arkansas, said a minimum of 30 days should be given for diseases in newly bought animals to run their course.
“Symptoms won’t show immediately,” Ward said. “If they have a virus or bacteria you will have time to see it and treat it within those 30 days.”
Some experts advise an even longer quarantine period. University of Missouri Extension Veterinarian Craig Payne, recommends keeping new animals separate for up to 45 days. “You may be able to argue that if there were a disease two weeks after an animal arrives, 30 days may not be long enough,” Payne said.
Payne added that producers should also consider the history of the animal.
“I have producers think, ‘Who are the highest risk animals?’” he said. “If you don’t know their history, they’re higher risk.”
“If you’re buying cattle from a neighbor and you’re comfortable with their known health status, it’s not as big a deal. Those cases where you’re buying cattle with unknown history is where quarantining is most important.”
Ward said the separation is not only for the flock or herd, but also for the safety of the new animal.
“There’s an animal welfare component,” Ward said. “This gives new animals time to adjust to new property and get used to new sounds and stress they may experience. Stress can lead to immune systems not working as well.”
Ward said not only new animals should be quarantined, but show livestock should be secluded once they return home as well. Being around other livestock has the potential to expose animals to new diseases.
“After a show keep those animals separate for at least two weeks just to be sure,” she said.
Payne gave a specific example from his experience that illustrates the importance of quarantining.
“A cow calf producer bought stocker calves to put in with his herd, so he wasn’t wasting forage, and failed to quarantine,” he said. “Seven to 14 days after arrival, calves started to break with pneumonia. Sixty to 90-day-old calves were exposed. We spent a lot of time and a lot of money trying to treat the calves. We couldn’t get ahead of the break.”
Payne said many of the producers he works with are hesitant to take the time to seclude livestock and the issue simply isn’t talked about enough.
“My personal experience is that most producers don’t think about quarantining,” he said. “They don’t want to fool with it, or they’re not aware of the importance of it.”
What makes this harder is that there are some cases in which quarantining will not solve the problem.
Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVD) and Trichomoniasis are persistent diseases, and quarantining for any amount of time will not stop the spreading of these diseases once introduced to the herd.