How to Create a Biosecurity Plan for Your Livestock Farm
Even if you are not a commercial livestock farmer, if you own livestock it is a good idea to have a biosecurity plan in place to prevent disease or to prevent the spread of infectious disease should an outbreak occur. Biosecurity is important to protect the health of your herd and the health of other livestock.
Here are some tips for biosecurity you can follow for your farm:
- Keep new animals in isolation for the first 2-3 weeks. Animals purchased from a livestock auction or other barn sale have probably had a high level of exposure to other animals in temporary housing or during shipping. You want to make sure a new animal is not carrying an infectious disease without yet showing symptoms.
- Keep young, pre-weaned cattle in separate pens or calf hutches. Preventing direct contact (nose-to-nose) with other animals is important in preventing disease in young, vulnerable baby animals.
- Keep a bucket of disinfectant solution in your barn or near the location where you handle animals so you can wash up after each time you handle your livestock.
- Even if you are not handling your livestock, wash your footwear using a footbath after walking through areas where livestock could be exposed to pathogens. This will prevent the spread of disease from one livestock area to the next. Dip your feet into the solution. It can be a shallow rubber pan with 2-3 inches of sanitizing solution. Use one cup bleach per gallon of water.
- When handing groups of animals, begin with the youngest and end with the oldest. Handle sick animals last. This will ensure you are not passing infectious disease from older carriers to younger animals whose immune systems have not yet developed.
- When handling young animals such as calves, wear clean clothing and footwear.
- Clean and sanitize cattle pens, hutches and feeding equipment between animals, and allow pens or hutches to sit empty for 2-4 weeks before allowing a different animal to inhabit the space.
- Provide lots of clean bedding to keep calves dry, clean and warm.
- Use disposable gloves and waterproof rubber footwear that you can easily clean and sanitize after each use.
For more information about how to create your own biosecurity plan for your livestock farm, contact your local ag extension service.