The National Sheep Producer Biosecurity Planning Guide
1 Introduction

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The National Sheep Producer Biosecurity Planning Guide (the Guide) is a tool for use by sheep producers in Canada when you are developing biosecurity plans for your farms. It has been prepared together with the National Sheep On-Farm Biosecurity Standard (the Standard), which contains an explanation of the common approach recommended to sheep producers for implementing biosecurity in the Canadian industry.

The Guide is not meant to be read as a book. Rather, it contains materials and information that you can work with in sections, and as you have time available. It provides an approach to preparing and documenting a biosecurity plan. Some producers will use the Guide to put together their first biosecurity plan; others will use it to test, update and/or modify their current plans.

The Standard and the Guide are intended to work together with your own animal records and on-farm flock health plans, and with the Canadian Sheep Federation's Food Safe Farm Practices Program, animal welfare programs and regulations, industry disease management programs, environmental farm plans, and traceability initiatives that you may already follow. In fact, some of the content in the Standard and the Guide may be duplicated in these programs and initiatives. This has been done to ensure that they are all complete, as stand-alone resources.

1.1 What is Biosecurity and Why is it Important?

Farm-level biosecurity is about a series of management practices designed to minimize, prevent or control:

  1. The introduction of infectious pathogens onto a farm;
  2. Spread within a farm production operation
  3. Export of these pathogens beyond the farm that may have an adverse effect on the economy, environment and human health.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

Biosecurity practices work together with flock health and disease management programs to reduce the risk of disease transmission and to manage the impact of diseases in sheep flocks. In the National Sheep Producer Biosecurity Planning Guide (The Guide), biosecurity is a proactive component – working to reduce the risk of diseases entering the farm, being transmitted between sheep in the flock and being spread to other farms.

Biosecurity reduces the risk of endemic, economically-significant, production-limiting diseases. Such diseases may be present in many sheep flocks. Clearly, not all endemic diseases are present in every flock, and producers, when developing a biosecurity plan, need to determine which diseases are present or may be potentially at risk to target them in their plans. These target diseases are referred to in the Guide as each farm's diseases of concern.

Biosecurity practices also reduce the risk of transmission of foreign animal diseases (FAD) and newly-emerging diseases. They do so by addressing many of the common modes of transmission and by essentially reducing the survival and transmission of these pathogens.

Biosecurity practices are also important in reducing the risk to producers, their families and their workers of exposure to zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases can be transmitted from sheep to humans, some, like Q fever, with very serious consequences, and from humans to sheep.

Biosecurity helps to reduce the risk of diseases reaching a flock and being transmitted within it. In doing so, biosecurity practices reduce suffering and in some cases mortality, and provide a foundation for improved production.

From this point forward in the Guide, materials will be presented that will help producers develop or improve their farm's biosecurity plan. In several sections additional spaces are included so that producers can enter information about their own flocks, their specific concerns and some analysis of their current practices.

1.2 Biosecurity Objectives for Sheep Producers

  • Check Increased awareness and education about disease risk specific to sheep, including foreign animal diseases (FAD), production-limiting diseases and new and emerging diseases.
  • Check Increased knowledge about disease prevention, management, and control and using it to develop a farm-specific flock health plan.
  • Check Increased productivity per unit; a healthier national flock with lower death loss, better feed conversion and gain, and reduced disease.
  • Check Consistent practice of biosecurity standards across Canada; producers, employees, veterinarians, service providers, public agencies, visitors, and their tools, equipment and vehicles present a reduced risk of transmitting diseases between and on farms.
  • Check Decreased risk of the transmission of zoonotic diseases.
  • Check Awareness that different levels of biosecurity and different biosecurity practices apply to different activities, both on the farm and off; including attendance at livestock exhibits and shows; and that farm gate sales will continue to be undertaken.

1.3 Top Ten Biosecurity Risks for Sheep Farms

Ten common risks were identified for sheep farms in Canada and are listed in the table below. You are encouraged to think about each of them in the context of your diseases of concern, your farm production practices, and your farm layout and facilities. Then, decide whether each is of Low, Moderate or High importance on your farm. Enter the L-M-H designation in the column to the right, with a brief note of explanation, if required. At the bottom of the table, insert any other biosecurity risks that you consider important on your farm

Top Ten Biosecurity Risks for Sheep Farms

Description of Risk

Importance on Your Farm: Low, Moderate, High and Comments

1. Unknown disease risk in sourcing new or replacement stock.

2. Sheep leaving the farm, having direct or indirect contact with other animals and returning to the home flock.

3. Risk of disease transmission in movement and disposal of deadstock.

4. Risk of transmission of disease within your flock; management of diseased animals.

5. Access to your flock by people from off-farm (service providers, farm workers and visitors) and risk of transmission of diseases through them from other locations.

6. Animal flow through your facility and risk of disease transmission between animal groups within your farm.

7. Risk of disease transmission within your flock from manure in your facilities and in storage on your farm.

8. Farm facilities, and equipment, tools and vehicles used on your farm that may be contaminated with pathogens.

9. Disease awareness among farm workers and their ability to identify potentially at-risk animals.

10. Risk of disease transmission from other livestock, working animals, wildlife, vermin, dogs and cats.

Additional risks on my farm:

These top ten risks for the industry have been identified during the development of the Guide. Keep them and any additional risks that you have entered above in mind as you proceed to develop a detailed plan for your farm in the following sections.

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