Seven simple steps can help reduce herd health risk when buying in beef cattle at this time of the year, according to Animal Health Ireland (AHI).
- Plan ahead – Due to the high risk with purchasing animals, it is worth spending time preparing a specific plan before any purchase is made. If buying in animals, plan to do so as few times as possible through that year and be aware of how the management of your home-bred animals will be affected by the management of bought-in stock.
- Buy in as few animals as possible – Watching additional animals that are bought into a farm as it increases the chances that you will introduce an infectious disease. Only buy the number of cattle that you need. Make a purchase plan and stick to it.
- Buy from as few herds as possible – Each additional herd that you purchase from increases the chances that one of these herds has an infectious agent that may spread to your own herd.
- Select lower-risk herds – Carefully selecting the herd that you buy animals from is as important as selecting which animals you buy. Herd selection is particularly important for diseases where the tests have poor sensitivity and that animals cannot be treated for the disease.
- Select lower-risk animals – Not all animals come with the same risk of carrying an infectious disease into your herd, and the tests do not always identify high risk animals. The risk of animals carrying disease should be considered when deciding whether animals for sale are appropriate for your herd.
- Reduce transport risks – The process of moving cattle from the vendor’s farm to your own carries additional risk of introducing disease. Ensure that the transport vehicle is clean and disinfected before use. Load cattle away from the other livestock. Do not allow the animals you are buying in mix with other cattle. Transport directly to your own farm.
- Implement a quarantine period – Quarantine is the final step to help reduce risks with purchased cattle. Quarantined animals must be in complete isolation from the rest of the herd, and should not share the same airspace. The home herd should not have contact with biological waste (slurry, used bedding) from quarantined. The length of time that animals will stay in quarantine will depend on what medications/vaccines are given and on the results of any disease testing. It is recommended that the period not be less than four weeks.