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Spring into Action and Implement a Biosecurity Plan

March 22, 2021 09:00 AM
By: Dr. Kevin Brightbill

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​Spring is in the air. As new life emerges on the farm and as wild birds migrate back to Pennsylvania, it's the perfect time to take basic steps to protect new animal lives, and the life of your operation. Three basic measures – having a premises ID, properly tagging animals and implementing a rigorous biosecurity plan – can minimize damage to your operation and soften the blow of a disease outbreak. Or even better, prevent disease altogether.

Keeping animal disease from spreading requires rapid tracing to stop disease at its source. It also requires notifying those whose operations are at risk from a nearby livestock disease outbreak or from infected migratory birds in your area. In the event of an animal disease outbreak, it is crucial that state and federal veterinary staff know where at-risk flocks or herds are located. If no one knows where you are and what species are on your farm, no one can warn you of risk in your area.

No matter the size of your operation or the species on your farm, having a premises ID is crucial. If you don't have one, you can r. If you don't know yours, call 717-772-2852.

A premises ID is required for ordering free RFID cattle tags, or Scrapie tags now required for sheep and goats. Tags enable state and federal veterinarians to quickly and accurately eradicate disease that could wipe out your herd or flock. Be ready for new calves by ordering free RFID tags for your herd from the PA Department of Agriculture at pda.pa.gov/PremisesRegistration/RFID. Scrapie tags can be ordered by contacting USDA's toll-free tag line at (866) 873-2824. 

While having a premises ID and proper tags help stop disease when it happens, biosecurity helps keep disease off your farm in the first place.

The best biosecurity plans are broken down into simple steps that are easy to remember and include in your daily routine.  Well thought-out plans, customized to fit your operation, can easily become second nature for you, your employees, service personnel and supply drivers.

Encouraging, educating and rewarding employees for doing things right can go a long way to breaking bad habits and replacing them with good ones. Include both new and old employees in continuous plan improvement to build employee pride in protecting the farm and ensure that your plan adapts as your operation grows and changes.

Review and update your plan every year with your veterinarian.  Your vet is a great resource to help you create a practical, farm-specific biosecurity plan.

By taking deliberate steps, day-in and day-out, you and your employees will make a difference. Not only will you safeguard your farm from devastating diseases, you'll bolster your bottom line by enhancing herd health, productivity and the long-term success and sustainability of your farm.

Biosecurity Boosts Your Bottom Line

  • Name a biosecurity coordinator – put someone in charge.
  • Designate your farm as a biosecure area – post signs.
  • Maintain separation lines between clean and dirty areas.
  • Require clean clothes and sanitized boot covers for entering and leaving.
  • Allow only clean, sanitized vehicles to enter at specific access points.
  • Designate parking area for private vehicles and visitors outside the separation line.
  • Separate animals entering the farm from other animals for 21 days or more.
  • Handle manure, carcasses and other waste onsite with on-farm employees and equipment as much as possible.
  • Reduce or eliminate feral birds and rodents – they carry bacteria and viruses. 

Questions about developing a biosecurity plan that works for your farm? Contact 717-772-2852 or email RA-ahds@pa.gov.

Have a productive, healthy spring!!


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