Canadian Beef Cattle On-Farm Biosecurity Standard
Principle 4: Educate, Plan, Record

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Education, planning and recording are fundamental to any management process. Accordingly, they are fundamental to biosecurity, which is essentially the management of animal disease risks.

4.1. Ensure that personnel understand how and why biosecurity is applied on their operation

Why Is This Important?

To be effective, biosecurity needs to be applied consistently. Consistent application cannot occur unless personnel are aware of what practices are to be applied and how.

An understanding of why biosecurity is being applied is also essential to ensure consistent and effective application. This can include farm level reasons, as well as those affecting the broader industry as a whole.

Suggested Risk Management Practices

a. Review Biosecurity Plan

Review the Biosecurity Plan for the operation with all personnel involved with livestock. Preparation of a Biosecurity Plan is detailed in the next section.

New personnel should be made familiar with the Plan prior to working with livestock. Personnel who do not work with livestock should be aware of the Plan and its purpose.

Ensure personnel understand what practices they are responsible for in the Biosecurity Plan, how to effectively carry out those practices, what records they must maintain and why these are important to the operation and to the industry. Depending upon the level of sophistication and size/type of operation, personnel may be asked to provide written confirmation of this.

Personnel (definition): Includes staff, owners and operators and their family members.

b. Train personnel

The availability of formal training material for Biosecurity is limited, although this is expected to change in the future. However, material promoting the awareness of biosecurity is now increasingly available from a number of sources and can be helpful in educating personnel, e.g. the operation's Biosecurity Plan, provincial government animal health services, national and provincial commodity group associations, the CFIA, etc. (see Schedule 7).

Review and update the biosecurity plan on a regular basis including when there have been changes to farm practices and when new personnel have been hired.

See also Target Outcome 4.2.

Biosecurity efforts are only successful if everyone accessing animals is aware of the practices and know their role.

4.2. Develop, document, and maintain a Biosecurity Plan that is specific to the needs of the operation

Why Is This Important?

Biosecurity calls for the application of practices that minimize animal disease risks on premises. Many of these practices are already in effect to some degree on most beef cattle operations. Additional practices may be identified in the course of reviewing this Manual to improve current on-farm biosecurity.

Documenting biosecurity practices in a Biosecurity Plan that is specific to a particular operation can provide the producer with a better understanding of what the risks are and how they are presently managed within that operation. A written Plan helps to ensure that the information it summarizes is:

  • Communicated and understood by personnel
  • A training tool for new hires
  • Applied consistently
  • Evaluated periodically to remain effective

Suggested Risk Management Practices

A Biosecurity Plan should address and document the practices that are in place or being implemented within the operation. These should include the following, samples of which are provided in the Schedules to this Manual:

  • Incoming Animals Plan (1A.1 and Schedule 3)
  • Entry Requirements (2.1 and Schedule 13)
  • Deadstock Disposal Plan (2.5 and Schedule 8)
  • Manure Management Plan (2.5 and Schedule 9)
  • Unusual Disease Situation Plan (4.4 and Schedule 11)
  • Record Keeping (4.5 and Schedules 12 - 15)

Preparation of these documents would constitute the Biosecurity Plan for the operation.

Involve personnel associated with livestock and with record keeping in preparing the Biosecurity Plan for your operation. These individuals can increase the effectiveness of the Plan and its application within your operation.

Use the Biosecurity Plan for your operation as a tool to train new and current personnel. This will help to ensure the consistent application of biosecurity practices by all staff. It will also help to keep the Plan current, as gaps or improvements are identified and addressed. See Target Outcomes 1A.1, 2.5, 4.3, 4.4 and 4.5.

4.3. Ensure that personnel know how to respond to the range of animal health situations typical to the operation

Why Is This Important?

Some disease situations in beef cattle operations are encountered frequently and can re-occur regularly. Anticipating what disease situations are typical to the operation, and planning an effective response to their occurrence, can ensure:

  • quick identification;
  • consistent application of effective treatment;
  • appropriate monitoring;
  • quicker return to health for the affected animals;
  • consistently reduced impacts within the herd; and
  • reduced likelihood of the disease spreading elsewhere in the industry.

Suggested Risk Management Practices

a. Identify and assess risk

Identify the disease situations that are commonly encountered on your operation and on operations in the surrounding community.

b. Plan the response

For each of these, identify the practices used in response. Consult your veterinarian to identify possible gaps and additional information.

For each situation identify the following:

  • Triggers used to identify the disease or situation
  • Treatment or response required, e.g. medication, isolation to sick pen
  • Monitoring and follow-up required
  • When to call your veterinarian

c. Know the signs

Ensure that personnel associated with cattle know the specific signs of diseases or situations that are common to the operation. These should be included in your Plan.

Some of the more general signs indicating a health related problem are noted below.

d. Document your practices

Document the practices regularly used for these situations in a Typical Disease Situation Plan.

e. Additional pointers

Practices that should also be used in these situations include:

  • Handle healthy or highly susceptible animals first, and high-risk animals last or separately.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment and veterinary tools prior to use on other animals.
  • Personnel managing these animals should be different from those handling the herd, or wash and change clothing and footwear prior to returning to the herd.

Ensure that personnel associated with cattle know the general signs of poor health noted below:

  • Depression or lethargy, e.g. droopy ears or head, decreased activity, lying down and won't rise
  • Laboured or abnormal breathing
  • Loss of appetite, weight, and/or condition
  • Not drinking or excessive drinking
  • Lameness, e.g. swollen or favoured foot or leg, fracture, etc.
  • Diarrhoea
  • Erratic behaviour, e.g. circling, head pressing, abnormal posture

4.4. Ensure that personnel know how to respond to an unusual animal health situation

Why Is This Important?

Recognizing the presence of an unusual illness in the herd and knowing how to respond can limit its impact upon the cattle that are immediately affected, the rest of the herd, possibly neighbouring herds and, in some cases, the industry as a whole.

Suggested Risk Management Practices

a. Identify and assess risk

Identify the potential disease situations of concern, and the practices to be used to identify and respond. These would include both specific diseases, as well as an unusual disease situation that might not be easily or immediately recognized.

Consult your veterinarian for input on the potential situations to be most aware of for your particular operation, and the practices to identify and implement.

These practices should address:

  • Trigger Levels
  • Initial Response
  • Elevated Biosecurity

b. Define the triggers

Pre-determined triggers should be established in advance to identify when an unusual situation is occurring. Document these in the Trigger Levels section of the Unusual Disease Situation Plan for your premises. They might include:

  • Occurrence of a disease not previously encountered within your operation
  • commonly encountered disease that is occurring with an unusually high level of sickness, death loss, or infectivity
  • commonly encountered disease that is not responding to typical treatments
  • Any suspicion of a reportable, or Foreign Animal Disease
  • Unexplained illness within a given period
  • Unexplained death loss within a given period

c. Establish Initial Response practices

Establish Initial Response practices and document them in the Initial Response part of your Unusual Disease Situation Plan. These practices should include:

  • Recognizing or observing the trigger
  • Calling your veterinarian
  • Notifying staff that an Unusual Disease Situation exists, with appropriate details
  • Applying Elevated Biosecurity practices if required

d. Establish Elevated Biosecurity practices.

Establish Elevated Biosecurity practices in advance and document them in the Elevated Biosecurity section of your Unusual Disease Situation Plan. These should be used if you determine that the situation warrants it, or if advised to do so by your veterinarian. They are intended for temporary use only, pending further instruction from your veterinarian, or a provincial or CFIA inspector or veterinarian.

Elevated Biosecurity practices could include:

  • Isolating sick animals
  • Stopping movements of cattle and other livestock out of the Production Area and the Farmyard
  • Stopping movements into the Production Area and Farmyard, e.g. visitors, equipment, vehicles and tools
  • Advising all personnel to avoid direct or indirect contact with cattle and other livestock off the farm, including their own
  • Delaying manure disposal (transport/spreading)
  • Practices for typical animal health situations.

Establish the conditions under which you would return to normal practices. These might be on advice from your veterinarian, or a provincial or CFIA veterinary inspector.

e. Document

Document the Initial Response and Elevated Biosecurity practices to be used on your operation for the Unusual Disease Situation Plan.

All personnel involved should be aware of these practices and their responsibilities.

See Schedule 11 for a sample of what the Unusual Disease Situation Plan might look like, including Immediate Response and Elevated Biosecurity practices.

4.5. Maintain ongoing records for animal health management

Why Is This Important?

Information recorded at the time of an event is generally more accurate than information recalled from memory months or years after the event. Accurate information, from records such as these and elsewhere, can help to identify:

  • the cause of disease;
  • the means by which a disease is spread, between animals and between operations; and
  • other potentially exposed animals or operations.

Suggested Risk Management Practices

a. Maintain records

The following records should be maintained on a consistent and ongoing basis:

  • Visitor entry to the operation (Visitor Log)
  • Movements of cattle into, from, or between Production Areas (Movement Log)
  • The application of all treatments and disease prevention measures (Health Log)
  • The off farm sale and purchase of all feeds (Feed Log)

b. Keep a Visitor Log

A Visitor Log should be used to record the entry of all visitors at the initial point of entry to the operation, regardless of whether this is to the Production Area or the Farmyard. A sample Visitor Log is shown in Schedule 12.

  • Record the entry of all visitors, including service providers and professionals (e.g. inspectors and veterinarians), school tours, international visitors, etc.
  • Records should include date, name and contact information. Additional information is also helpful, e.g. whether or not the visitors entered the Production Area and/or contacted cattle.
  • Records are not required for personnel entering the Production Area.
  • Records are not expected for trespassers and others entering without permission. It is understood that, because of the significant distance or size involved, some operations have no way of knowing if someone has entered the Production Area.
  • Records can be obtained in a variety of ways. For instance, service personnel accessing remote Production Areas can provide the required information by phone or email.
    • The Entry Requirements can be displayed prominently in the Visitor Log, to effectively remind all visitors of the requirements for them, their vehicles and their equipment. Prominently displaying the Sanitation Plan in this manner can help producers establish the risk level and appropriate biosecurity requirements for visitors and equipment.

c. Maintain a Movement Log

A Movement Log should be used to record cattle movements into, from or between Production Areas. A sample Movement Log is shown in Schedule 13.

  • Record all movements, such as sales and purchases; to/from range, pasture, community pasture or other Production Area; to/from show or bull test; to/from a veterinary clinic; etc.
  • Records should include date, animal identification, number of animals, nature of the event (purchase, sale, death, other movement), and to or from whom. Record individual identification linked to CCIS identifiers to the extent possible and where required by law, and contact information of agents, purchasers, sellers and/or transporters involved.
  • Additional movements and information may also be recorded and may be helpful. This might include movements occurring within the Production Area, e.g. between pens (feedlot) or pastures (cow-calf) and to/from isolation or sick area or pen; transporter and contact information; and movements involving commingling with animals from other operations.

Visitor & Movement Logs are critical to tracking movements in the event of a disease outbreak, and can identify potentially exposed herds sooner. This can help reduce the impacts of a highly infectious disease.

d. Use a Health Log

A Health Log should be used to record all health treatments and disease prevention measures. A sample Health Log is shown in Schedule 14.

  • Record all treatments, vaccinations and/or preventative measures, and other health related treatments.
  • Records should include date, signs of disease or reason for treatment, the animal identification for the animal or group of animals involved, the treatment provided, including name, dose of medication and method of delivery, follow-up required, withdrawal date based upon withdrawal period added to current date, the signature of the individual involved, and anything else required.
  • Data should be recorded on an individual identification basis for treatments and medications administered to sick animals, in a manner that can be readily linked to the CCIP identifier. Records may be recorded on a group lot basis, for activities applied to groups of cattle, e.g. processing of incoming animals.

e. Keep a Feed Log

A Feed Log should be used to record all off-farm feed movements. A sample Feed Log is shown in Schedule 15.

  • Record all off-farm movements, purchases and sales of feed. It is helpful to include medicated feeds, vitamins and supplements.
  • Records should include date, buyer and seller contact information, description of items purchased, whether or not a sample was taken and held, HACCP supplier batch numbers, name and level of medicated ingredient, and storage location.
  • Samples should be taken at time of delivery, and held for 9 months or more.
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