Good Biosecurity Practices Important for Livestock Health

October 31, 2011 05:57 AM

For livestock producers, now is a critical time to have good biosecurity practices in place to protect herds from the occurrence and transfer of diseases. Many animals have been traveling to be shown in state and county fairs, and they may bring home more than ribbons. They may harbor parasites or diseases that producers haven’t had on their farms in the past, says David Fernandez, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Extension livestock specialist.

“Animals at shows, or those purchased from sale barns, have the potential to be exposed to numerous diseases and disease strains from all over the state or country that they have never encountered before, and so have little resistance to them,” he said. “When you bring the animals onto your farm, you may introduce the new disease or parasite into your herd or flock at the same time.”

There are a few simple precautions producers should take to prevent the spread of diseases.


  • Keep town clothes (or show clothes) and boots separate from farm clothes
  • Thoroughly clean all equipment and vehicles after attending a show or sale
  • Restrict visitor and outside vehicle access to your farm

Properly dispose of dead animals.

  • Bury under at least 3 feet of earth
  • Compost (compost pile must reach a temperature of over 130°F)
  • Burn the carcass
  • Have a renderer remove the carcass


  • Isolate all new or returning animals for 30 days
  • Isolate sick animals
  • Avoid fenceline contact with neighboring livestock
  • Work with your veterinarian to establish a good vaccination program and follow it
  • Report disease outbreaks to your veterinarian


“Probably the single most important thing we fail to do as livestock producers is quarantine new or returning animals,” Fernandez said. “You need to have a place where you can house these animals that will prevent them from coming into contact with your livestock for at least 30 days.” Any disease or parasite problems should have become evident by then.

Producers need to conduct tests on new or returning livestock for diseases that do not present signs. Trichomoniasis is one such disease in cattle. All bulls being sold in Arkansas for breeding must now be tested.  Other diseases of concern include Johne’s disease in cattle, drug-resistant barberpole worms in sheep and goats, Newcastle disease in poultry, and Pasteurellosis or “snuffles” in rabbits

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