Bio-exclusion – Keeping infectious disease out of your herd

The View from Animal Health IrelandDisease can be introduced to your herd either through direct contact between animals (for example animals introduced into your herd or from neighbouring animals) or indirectly.

Indirect transmission can occur when infectious agents are carried to your animals through, for example, farm visitors, equipment, slurry, water courses, or wildlife, vermin and other animals. Farms should have a biosecurity plan in place that addresses these threats according to the risk that they pose.

The highest risk of introducing disease is from introducing animals to your herd – so having a closed herd is the best policy.  If you need to purchase animals, you should minimise the risk by following our guidelines in our ‘Purchasing Stock: Reducing Disease Risks’ leaflet to source low risk animals, and quarantine animals on arrival to your farm.

The introduction of pregnant stock (either purchased or returning from contract rearing), represent a particular risk in relation to BVD and should be avoided if possible. Having fully stock-proof boundary fencing to prevent break-outs or break-ins is essential. Again, in relation to BVD, particular care should be taken with the grazing management of pregnant cattle to minimise the likelihood of their having boundary contact with other cattle.

Minimise farm visitors, and ensure they wear clean footwear and clothing if in contact with your animals. Providing visitors with spare sets of both while on your farm is a great idea. Importing slurry can be seen as a cheap source of fertiliser, but may bring in new diseases and so should be avoided.

Avoid sharing animal equipment and facilities with other herds (for example de-horners, trailers, crushes). Make your yards and feed sheds wildlife-proof and take measure to keep dogs, cats and rodents out of feed bins. If possible avoid using colostrum from other herds.

Further information can be found on our here.

Farmers should talk directly with their own vet for farm-specific advice.

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