The health of production animals is the first and most fundamental building block to ensuring success on-farm. To protect your herd against diseases that can enter the farm or from internal diseases spreading, one should have a set of biosecurity rules and guidelines to follow. The following basic steps will help to reduce the risk of disease entering your property, spreading through the resident herd, and spreading to surrounding herds.
Protection can be as easy as 1–2–3!
STEP 1: PREVENT THE ENTRANCE of novel diseases through vehicles, equipment, visitors, or new animals into a herd. Disinfect vehicles and dip shoes into disinfectants when people enter the facility. Keep a visitor’s logbook and prevent visitors entering camps with animals (only allow essential services staff to enter animal camps).
STEP 2: PREVENT THE INTERNAL SPREAD of disease through your herd by staff or equipment. Provide staff with clean and disinfected clothes and have them move from high-risk animals such as calves to lower-risk animals as they go about their duties.
STEP 3: PREVENT CONTACT between healthy and sick animals by placing new and sick animals into quarantine camps for at least 21–30 days. Quarantine camps should have their own feed and water troughs and should be closed off to prevent contact with healthy animals. With the basics covered to prevent the entrance and spread of disease, all a farmer can do is support the animal’s immune system to fight any infections that they do encounter.
Once basic protection has been mastered, you can download a more comprehensive biosecurity checklist for use on your sheep, beef, or dairy farm (source: The Centre of Food Security and Animal Health, Iowa State University).
Read more about biosecurity in this article as published in Wolboer/Wool Farmer 8.4 of 2020: Biosecurity: Keeping out the ‘black’ sheep.
Anri Strauss is a scientific adviser in the ruminant team at Chemuniqué, holding a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of Pretoria. She grew up on a farm and still lives in the Free State, where she and her husband also farm with Boer goats.