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Are You Letting Biosecurity Slip Through the Cracks?

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
June 1, 2016        
Source:  Emily Wilmes, Extension Educator-Livestock
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

Are You Letting Biosecurity Slip Through the Cracks?

By Emily Wilmes, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (06/01/16) — As spring moves into summer, chances are you may be visiting a farm other than your own.  Whether it’s for Breakfast on the Farm, a Field Day, or just to visit a neighbor, it’s important to keep biosecurity in mind.  Biosecurity came into the limelight last spring with the outbreak of avian influenza in Minnesota.  Whether you raise chickens, cattle, pigs, or anything in between, biosecurity is an important piece to keeping your livestock safe.  Here are some areas of biosecurity that may slip through the cracks, so make sure you are giving them some attention.

Purchasing Cattle
First, know where you are buying the cattle from.  Does that farm have a disease history you should be aware of?  Diseases like Johne’s can easily be brought into herds by new animals with the producer being completely unaware.  Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions or even require negative test results before the transaction is complete.   Ideally, newly purchased cattle should be separated from the rest of the herd in a quarantine pen upon their arrival at the farm. 

Vehicles and Equipment
Probably the most recognizable source of a potential biosecurity breach is vehicles and equipment coming to and from the farm.  Some regular visitors to your farm may include the milk truck, the feed truck, your veterinarian, and farming equipment from entities doing custom work.  There are also less regular visitors who may be driving on to the farm.  Whenever possible, direct vehicles to a designated parking area that is away from your livestock.  For vehicles that may need to come farther onto the farm, consider marking an area near the entrance/exit for incoming and outgoing vehicles to disinfect their tires. 

Similar to vehicles, you will have a core group of people that visit your farm on a regular basis.  These people should be aware of your biosecurity practices, including wearing clean clothing and footwear.  Similar to having an area to disinfect tires, you should have an area where boots can be washed and disinfected—most of your regular visitors will have their own buckets and soap, they just need access to water.  A designated hose for washing up will encourage disinfecting of footwear, and is a nice courtesy.  For farm visitors that don’t regularly come to your farm, post a sign that your farm is a biosecure area and direct them to an office or area on the farm where they should check in. 

Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility, and it starts with you.  Making sure animals are in a clean, safe environment and are administered regular preventative vaccinations can ensure there is never a disease outbreak on your farm.  If you have questions about biosecurity practices or are curious about preventative measures, contact your veterinarian.


Emily Wilmes
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems - Livestock
(320) 255-6169
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