The recent foot and mouth disease incident in Britain is a reminder that precautions against the transfer of disease vectors into livestock operations, or their transfer out of them, should never be allowed to slip because of complacency. The protocols and operating procedures put into place to prevent disease entry or transfer are collectively referred to as biosecurity Ė basically just securing a farm against disease entry or spread.
Every farm is different and will have a biosecurity program tailored to the operation. Keep in mind all potential points of disease vector entry. This might start with a list like this: pigs (including weaners, market hogs, gilts, culls, etc. and deadstock), semen, feed, supplies, water, equipment, air, pests such as insects and rodents, and people (which includes shoes, clothing, etc.). Setting up a biosecurity protocol from scratch can appear to be a daunting task, but it isnít really. Taking a moment to think about your farm and imagining where disease might gain access, and taking steps that would stop it or at least reduce the risk, is a good start.
To help in this process, we have put together a 10 step guide to implementing an effective biosecurity plan. Implementing any of these suggestions will reduce the risk of disease entry. Each additional step implemented will further reduce biosecurity risks. They are not necessarily in any order of priority:
1) Quarantine replacement stock, or at least ensure that their health status is compatible with the existing herd.
2) Restrict entry to essential personnel and record the entry of all visitors.
3) Provide boots and coveralls for staff and visitors for each barn.
4) Staff should change into dedicated boots and coveralls upon entering each different barn. Clean footbaths may be appropriate within a barn for different rooms.
5) Provide shower facilities for visitors.
6) Minimize the entry of equipment, supplies, and so on, and take appropriate precautions such as disinfection, removal from shipping boxes, etc.
7) Prevent entry by wild animals, such as rats, birds and insects, or domestic dogs and cats. Use screens in windows, air inlets and doors.
8) Use a semen supplier that routinely tests for PRRS virus and other infectious agents.
9) Ensure that feed and water sources are free from infectious agents.
10) Review your biosecurity plan and herd health program, including vaccination protocols, with your veterinarian on a regular basis.
For more information on biosecurity and herd health, including this checklist and a biosecurity "Stop" sign that you can download and print, visit OMAFRA's health management and biosecurity website.