The health of farm animals starts with biosecurity. Proper biosecurity stops diseases from entering farms and keeps diseases from moving between animals on the farm. These measures matter for stable food production now and in the future.
Diseases like foot-and-mouth disease spread fast without proper precautions, and vaccines do not exist for all livestock illnesses. Biosecurity fills that protection gap to help ensure the health and welfare of farm animals.
Simple changes to everyday tasks keep farm animals safe and healthy. Farmers wear farm-specific protective clothing and boots. All people and vehicles disinfect before entering areas with animals. They also limit visitors to the farm, and all new animals are quarantined for a period of time after arrival. These steps help shield farm animals from outside threats.
Read on to learn more about farm biosecurity and why it is so important to our farms and farmers.
Understanding Farm Biosecurity
Farm biosecurity refers to measures taken to protect livestock and crops from infectious diseases, pests, and contaminants. Implementing proper biosecurity protocols on farms helps ensure the health of animals and plants while also minimizing risks to farm workers and food safety.
Farm biosecurity includes all steps and policies aimed at preventing the introduction, spread, and amplification of biological threats to animals and plants on a farm. It involves managing farm access, movement of people, vehicles, and animals on and off the farm, cleaning and sanitation procedures, quarantine of new animals, and disease monitoring. A comprehensive farm biosecurity plan covers all areas of farm operations, from livestock housing to crops, machinery, feed storage, and other infrastructure.
Protecting Animal Health and Welfare
The primary goal of farm biosecurity is to protect the health and well-being of farm animals. Diseases and pests can cause sickness, suffering, and death among livestock. Biosecurity measures help prevent the entry and spread of disease organisms that can impact animal health.
Reducing Economic Losses
Disease outbreaks can result in major economic losses for farms due to costs of treatment, decreased animal productivity, and even livestock mortality. Farm biosecurity helps avoid such losses, largely by preventing disease entry in the first place.
Limiting Restriction of Animal Movements
When disease outbreaks occur, authorities may impose restrictions on the movement of animals from affected farms. Good biosecurity reduces the need for such restrictions, which can be disruptive and costly for farming operations.
Complying with Government Regulations
Both the federal and state governments mandate that farms implement basic biosecurity protocols. Farms risk penalties and loss of certification if they do not comply with these requirements. Adopting proper biosecurity ensures farms meet all legal and regulatory obligations.
Maintaining Access to Markets
Buyers and food businesses increasingly demand that supplying farms demonstrate good biosecurity and disease control. Failure to meet such requirements can limit a farm’s market access and opportunities. Robust biosecurity helps farms satisfy the demands of purchasers and consumers.
Protecting Our Farms in Smart, Effective Ways
Farm biosecurity is critical for farmers to protect the health and productivity of their livestock. By implementing proper biosecurity measures, farmers can prevent the spread of diseases and infections that could devastate animals and ruin harvests.
Vaccinations, quarantines for new animals, hygiene protocols for workers and visitors, disinfection of facilities and equipment, and rodent and pest control are all examples of effective biosecurity practices. With globalization and increased movement of people and animals, pathogens and pests now spread faster than ever. Therefore, farm biosecurity must be a top priority for farmers to safeguard their investments and livelihoods.