Biosecurity on the Farm

— Written By and last updated by

The day after Christmas my wife and daughter entered a plane at Raleigh/Durham Airport and stepped off in London, England just seven hours later. A trip that took days in the past takes less time than a good night’s sleep today. Before returning to the States, they were asked if they had visited any farms during their trip or if they had any contact with animals during their visit. These inquires may have seemed strange, but they stem from a very real concern over the possibility of spreading disease from one country to another. With the ability to travel anywhere in the world so quickly, farmers would be wise to exercise caution in regard to movement to and from farms. Caution should be exercised even with trips from one local farm to another.

Biosecurity is the word used to describe precautions farmers use to keep diseases away from their farms. Things producers do to keep diseases off the farm fall under three categories. The first is human traffic controls. Farmers need to ask all visitors if they have been out of the country in the last two weeks or if they have visited other farms recently. A package of plastic boots should be available for visitors in this category. The producer needs to preplan exactly where visitors are allowed to go. Visitors should respect all farmers’ requests due to concerns for their animal’s health and safety. The second category is animal traffic controls. Producers need to have an isolation pen or pasture where new animals can be monitored for health issues before exposing them to the farm herd. Producers should also control rodents and wildlife that come to the farm. These animals may carry disease and tend to contaminate feed and water. Any farm animal that becomes sick should be isolated to avoid transmission of that sickness. The third category is equipment traffic control. Equipment, including trailers, tractors, and front-end loaders, should be disinfected when they are brought to the property or leave the property. This includes traveling to a stockyard or loaning equipment to neighbors. A quick wash, especially in the rainy muddy season, will do a lot of good to cut down on the possible spread of disease. Taking time to implement these precautions will protect animals from unnecessary exposure to disease, resulting in a more productive farm.

(Resources: Jessica Morgan. NCSU County Extension Agent, and Beef Magazine, 2005.)

If you have any livestock, forage, or pasture questions, please call Glenn Detweiler, Lincoln County Livestock Extension Agent at 704-736-8461 or text 405-219-1902.