Safeguarding your herd - Biosecurity; NBA kicks off plain English animal health campaign
2nd March 2015
In this, the second advisory guide being published by The National Beef Association’s (NBA) Animal Health Committee, they look at on farm Bio-security. The aim of these unique guides is to help beef farmers protect the health of their herds, and to ensure that they have the correct protocols in place.
These guides, put together by Charles Maclaren Chair of the NBA Animal Health Committee, are the first in a campaign by the NBA, which was put together late last year to provide beef farmers with information about common health problems and their potential financial impacts on beef enterprises.
This is a word we all know and hear regularly but do we really know what it is? Do we know what the implications are to each of us?
Biosecurity can be spilt it in to three key areas:
1. Farm Biosecurity
2. Human and Vehicle Traffic
3. The Wildlife
The most effective way for you to approach this is to have a drawing of the buildings on your farm and to use a colour coded system to colour the sheds for risk. A traffic light system is what I use when doing this for others.
Green - is for sheds not ever used for feed, housing of cattle or sheep or anything to do with livestock in any way.
Amber - is for those areas and buildings sometime used for stock or stock related purposes.
Red - is a high risk area where stock is kept or used routinely for livestock or tasks relating to livestock such as feed storage.
Once you have established this you then need to put a system in place to reduce the risk of any contamination. A good place to start is to reduce any visitors to this area.
Human and Vehicle traffic:
Unfortunately most diseases and viruses cannot be seen and many can and will be carried on clothing, in your hair and even up your nose. We all need to be much more aware of these facts especially as we are increasingly keeping larger numbers of in livestock in one place.
Human traffic should be reduced where ever possible and consideration of this should be understood by all, not just the farmer. From vets to reps and delivery drivers to contractors, all must play their part, they must be made aware of the risks and think before they enter.
It is so easy to unwittingly spread disease. For example; when AI, scanning, calving or any work which means internal examination, remember to always only use your gloves on the one animal and then discard. This is very important as you just don’t know what you might be transmitting from one animal to the next.
We know and understand that the wildlife on our farms carries some diseases, and that it would be impossible to keep them all out. However, it is important to try to find out who is on your farm. Always report any sick or dead animals to the relevant authorities who may post mortem the carcase and give you some useful feedback.
Know your enemy:
It is crucial that we all make the effort to understand the threats and be able to recognise the signs of the start of a disease taking hold. You should all know the health status of your herds, and should be able to use this information to your own advantage. Preventive medicine has and will always be cheaper than trying to suppress and get rid of a disease once you have it. All diseases and all viruses will affect the animals’ natural immune system leaving it vulnerable to a secondary outbreak of something else.
Biosecurity is very important and these are all facts that cannot be ignored. If you take control of your On Farm Biosecurity it will help your business financially.
“Remember,” says Charlie, “the old saying look after your stock and they will look after you”.
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