The Healthy Farms Healthy Agriculture website is designed to assist you in implementing effective, everyday biosecurity methods with easy-to-follow guidance, and step-by-step instructions on how to create a biosecurity plan for your farm.
What is Biosecurity?
Biosecurity is a set of everyday methods/practices/protocols that will prevent or greatly reduce the introduction of diseases or pests to farm animals, and to also contain the spread of any diseases between farm animals. It is a whole farm and community approach to herd health management, where the inputs, outputs, local or regional sources and threats are assessed, prioritized and addressed.
Possible sources and threats:
- the source of possible infection - other livestock, visitors, or wildlife.
- the the area of the farm - maternity pens, facilities for newborns and young stock, and feed storage areas.
- susceptibility of animals - baby calves, youngstock, and cows before and after calving, having less competent immune systems than most lactating cows.
The Importance of Maintaining Healthy Animals
Farms that practice high standards of animal husbandry and environmental stewardship are likely to be healthy farms. These farms are responsible for making sure that animals are protected from diseases, that employees know how to follow biosecurity procedures, and farm visitors understand the importance of why they need to follow the procedures as well.
Biosecurity is a Community Effort
Consider the people who either work on or visit farms:
- Farm family
- Extension agent
- Milk hauler
- Feed hauler
- Service providers
- Other visitors
They all have the potential to either bring or take away infectious agents or pests that could harm your animals, or animals on other farms. Think of them as members of a biosecurity community with their own responsibilities to ensure that farm animals are protected.
Communicating about, and getting people to follow farm biosecurity practices may seem like a challenge. The Prevent-Detect-Respond sections of this website provide recommendations on how to talk with people about biosecurity, so they will follow the practices an operation has in place.
How to Use This Website
Whether you are a farmer or a backyard chicken wrangler, needs vary in terms of how to set up or improve upon your biosecurity practices.
The Prevent Section
Learn about the possibilities for preventing livestock diseases from entering or exiting your property, and how to talk with your employees and visitors about following your biosecurity lead. Read more here.
The Detect Section
How to look for signs and symptoms (surveillance) of disease, when to call a vet, getting lab tests and how to interpret the results. And on a larger scale, what could happen in the case of a foreign animal disease incursion or widespread domestic disease outbreaks. Recommendations for communicating about a known disease and heading off a crisis can be found in here. Read more here.
The Respond Section
Covers topics around disease containment, eradication and recovery from an outbreak. How you react and talk about a crisis is especially important during these events; advice on talking to employees and the public will be beneficial to know if the need ever arises. Read more here.
Create a Plan
Large farm, homestead or backyard: no matter how many animals you keep, planning ahead is the best strategy for protecting them from diseases and pests. There are many benefits to organizing important information in case of an emergency, but a biosecurity plan helps everyone involved know what the daily, monthly and yearly procedures are. This site offers resources to help you build, save and continually improve upon a biosecurity plan. Read more here.
Specific recommendations for several farm animals can be found here, and links for information on livestock diseases. Read more here.
Anyone who works on a farm has the potential to bring pests and diseases with them, or carry them away to another farm. This section contains training resources on biosecurity topics, curricula for teachers, videos, storytelling and more. Read more here.
Hot topics in biosecurity, timely articles, news and announcements are posted in this section regularly. Guest bloggers share their expertise here as well. Read more here.