National Farm-Level Biosecurity Planning Guide Proactive Management of Animal Resources
F) Elements of a Farm-Level Biosecurity Plan

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When developing a farm-level biosecurity plan, the following three areas should be considered:

  1. facility location and layout;
  2. operational routines; and
  3. animal health management.

The producer is encouraged to design measures that are practical, outcome-based, and flexible. For an example of the flexibility in defining biosecurity elements and developing a plan, access the National Avian On-Farm Biosecurity Standard.

As a biosecurity plan is developed, certain limitations (e.g. geographic, economic) may prevent the implementation of ideal practices. In these circumstances, increased emphasis and rigour in other elements may be advisable.

1. Farm Location and Layout

This section addresses the larger physical features of an operation. Given the intensification of production and limited farmland, the location of an operation and how it is designed are becoming increasingly important factors. Location and layout are easily incorporated into the construction of a new operation. For existing farms, operational routines and animal health management practices are the easiest and least costly to change and provide the greatest immediate impact on a farming operation.

1.1 Geography

The natural environment surrounding your farm is important for understanding the disease risks in your area. During a disease event, the physical features of your operation and local farms are vital information for helping reduce the risk of disease introduction and spread.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Distance to the following:
    • other similar farming units in the area;
    • other livestock sites, including abattoirs, auctions, or sales yards, animal or waste transfer stations, and hatcheries;
    • location of barns with respect to roadways and animal transport routes; and
    • waterways and conservation areas.
  • Ensure that the position of ventilation outlets and inlets is not downwind of another operation.

1.2 Layout

An illustration of the layout of your operation can assist in training new employees, directing visitors, and planning future production processes and disease response. Understanding the logic of production movements and work patterns can be important to for the development, implementation, and modification of a biosecurity plan.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Manage orientation of barns, buildings, and units to minimize disease introduction and transmission.
  • Position facilities on the premises to minimize disease introduction and spread.
  • Ensure that cleaning and disinfection areas and facilities are appropriately located.
  • Designate unloading and loading bays in a location that minimizes disease introduction and spread.
  • Place areas for restraint, treatment, and isolation or quarantine of animals in locations that minimize the risk of disease introduction and spread.
  • Keep segregated rearing areas for young, sick, and new animals.
  • Surround the property with a perimeter fence or boundary.
  • Establish a visibly demarcated boundary around the production area.
  • Locate farm residences outside the production area, if possible.
  • Make available a map of the property, including the production area.

1.3 Traffic Flow

Vehicles and the surfaces on which they travel can be vectors for the introduction, spread, and release of disease-causing agents. Thus, it is important to control and, if necessary, restrict the movement of vehicles on your premises.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Ensure that traffic flow routes are well defined and provide direction to staff and visitors.
  • Use appropriate signs to direct visitors to parking areas, farm offices, transition areas, and delivery and drop-off points.
  • Provide designated parking areas for vehicles not entering the production area.
  • Ensure that the main entrance gate to the premises and production area has appropriate signs and that it can be secured.

1.4 Landscape

Natural features, including vegetation, waterways, and topography, can benefit a biosecurity plan by providing natural barriers and drainage. These features on your property provide a cheap means of implementing biosecurity measures.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Locate production areas and animal-housing areas on higher ground, and/or use landscaping to assist drainage and reduce standing water in the production area.
  • Minimize trees and shrubs near or within the production area.
  • Use natural barriers along roadways or neighbouring farm boundaries to enhance separation.
  • Manage vegetation within or around the production area.
  • Use landscaping to assist drainage and to reduce standing water in the production area.

2. Operational Routine

This section focuses on day-to-day processes. The arrival and movement of owners, employees, visitors, and services are daily occurrences for a farm operation, and increase the risk of introduction and spread of disease and pests. Risk-reducing measures are easily incorporated into operational routines and often require little financial commitment. The success of operational routines as risk-reducing practices depends on responsibility, cooperation, diligence, flexibility, and planning.

2.1 Biosecurity Zones

Biosecurity zones are those areas that involve biosecurity measures for access, exit, and movement. Specifically, the controlled access zone (CAZ) and the restricted access zone (RAZ) represent areas of increasing risk. To be effective, these zones should be visible and controlled, and their importance should be understood.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Have a CAZ (outer biosecurity zone) and one or more RAZs (inner biosecurity zones) for the production area.
  • Provide appropriate and visible signs for the CAZ and RAZ.
  • Define the boundaries of biosecurity zones.
  • Control entry and exit points for biosecurity zones.

2.2 Movement of Employees and Visitors

People, clothing, and footwear provide numerous risk factors for a biosecurity plan. However, measures can be developed and implemented to reduce these risks through protocols and the strict control of access to biosecurity zones.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Communicate biosecurity measures to visitors and service sectors and ensure that they understand and comply.
  • Don't forget that permission to enter the premises is ultimately the responsibility of the producer.
  • Require separate outerwear and footwear (disposable or farm-dedicated) for entrance into the production area (CAZ).
  • Designate farm or barn outer clothing for entrance to the animal production area – the RAZ.
  • Provide handwashing facilities at the entrance and exit of a production area or unit.
  • Enter and exit into or from the CAZ or RAZ by passing through a controlled entry point (transition area or anteroom) where cleaning, disinfection, handwashing, and outerwear changes occur.
  • Require clean-to-dirty, healthy-to-sick, and young-to-old work patterns inside and between production units, and out of zones.
  • Limit CAZ/RAZ access to accompanied essential visitors (service industry personnel, veterinarians, specialty services, utility personnel, and contractors).
  • Have visitors who have had contact with other animals shower before changing into protective outerwear and footwear.
  • Require the use of footbaths where provided.
  • Remove, contain, and dispose of soiled disposable outerwear and footwear before departure.
  • Clean and disinfect dirty boots.
  • Wash hands and forearms before leaving the premises.
  • Require that all visitors act as follows:
    • obtain approval before their visit;
    • understand established biosecurity protocols;
    • fill out a visitor log;
    • be accompanied;
    • limit their access to the production area; and
    • limit their direct access to animals, their products, feed, and water.
  • Require that those employees and family members returning from other countries who have had contact there with animals and/or animal housing avoid immediate direct or indirect contact with animals until biosecurity measures have been applied. The nature of those measures and the timeframe required are dependent on the animal health status of the country visited and the potential risk of disease transmission.

2.3 Movement of Vehicles and Equipment

Just as people and clothing pose biosecurity risks, vehicles and equipment also pose high levels of risk. This risk is increased if they travel on and off the premises or have contact, direct or indirect, with animals or animal products.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Ensure that all vehicles entering a farm follow established biosecurity protocols.
  • Park employee and family vehicles in a designated area outside the production area and off operational traffic patterns.
  • Clean vehicles until they are free of visible organic material on tires, wheel wells, and undercarriage.
  • Clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment entering a biosecurity zone in a controlled, designated area.
  • Ensure that delivery and/or service areas are as distant as possible from livestock facilities.
  • Have designated equipment specific to each farm. Avoid sharing farm equipment between farms.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment that is in contact with mortalities, manure, or feed, according to biosecurity protocols or a risk management program,
  • Livestock conveyances require cleaning and disinfection prior to arriving at the farm.
  • Clean and disinfect, as necessary, vehicles and equipment exiting a biosecurity zone.
  • Properly sanitize livestock instruments and equipment (dehorners, etc.) before and between uses.
  • Limit recreational vehicle use on the premises.
  • Maintain a vehicle and equipment arrival log.

2.4 Construction and Maintenance of Facilities and Property

A well-constructed and maintained operation strengthens a biosecurity plan by aiding cleaning and disinfection processes and reducing the risks associated with visitors, services, and pests.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Put in place a routine facility/property maintenance program.
  • Conduct routine inspections of equipment and buildings.
  • Keep buildings and mechanical equipment in good repair.
  • Have signs, fences, and boundaries in good repair.
  • Require production areas to be free of water (puddles) and effluent drainage.
  • Make sure that buildings are easily cleaned and disinfected.
  • Design buildings to prevent the entry of wild birds and animals, and limit the presence of vermin.
  • Ensure that gates and building doors can lock.
  • Ensure that driveways and walkways are in good repair, and are constructed of all-weather material (concrete or asphalt) that promotes adequate drainage.

2.5 Animal Feed and Bedding

Ingestion of contaminated feed or contact with contaminated bedding can introduce and spread disease quickly. Contamination may occur off-site at purchase or on-site as a result of inappropriate storage.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Source feed from manufacturers or suppliers that operate under a quality assurance program and that have a biosecurity component.
  • Contain, seal, and/or enclose feed storage and storage areas.
  • Keep feed and bedding storage outside the RAZ.
  • Keep feeding systems "closed," wherever possible.
  • Ensure that feed-delivery personnel have no contact with livestock.
  • Source bedding from reputable suppliers.
  • Store bedding in a designated area to prevent contamination.

2.6 Water

Water sources and delivery systems have the potential to expose animals to disease-causing pathogens on a daily basis. Aquatic environments (ponds, lakes, etc.) cannot be controlled and are potential reservoirs for serious disease agents.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Production water must meet provincial and municipal standards for potable water.
  • Test water regularly for safe animal consumption.
  • Use municipal water sources, wherever possible.
  • Filter and treat water from wells, streams, ponds, and lakes.
  • Reduce or eliminate animal access to streams, rivers, lakes, or ponds.
  • Use "closed" water delivery systems, wherever possible.
  • Inspect and maintain systems and treatment units.
  • Install alarms or other devices to notify producer when water treatment systems are not operational.

2.7 Manure

Daily exposure (direct or indirect) to manure is routine for animals and employees. Manure is an animal product and can easily attract insects and pests, creating the potential for high-risk situations as employees or animals move around the facility. Consider employees and equipment that have entered the RAZ to have had either direct or indirect contact with manure.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Develop a written manure management plan to address collection, storage, handling, and disposal.
  • Ensure that manure management adheres to provincial and municipal waste, agriculture, and environment guidelines.
  • Remove animal waste regularly from production areas.
  • Store animal waste outside of the production area, if possible.
  • Store animal waste away from property lines and roadways.
  • Manage animal waste storage to contain runoff and to limit access to wildlife and pests.
  • Require biological composting and anaerobic storage before spreading manure on fields or moving it off the property.
  • Record movements, including sales, of manure and/or compost from the production area or premises.
  • Ensure that neighbouring producers do not spread manure adjacent to your barns, production areas, or water sources.

2.8 Disposal of Mortalities

Mortalities create risk situations in several ways. They may act as a reservoir of pathogens (in the case of death due to disease), attract pests, or transfer disease off-site (in the case of serviced removal). On-site considerations include movement around the facility, storage and/or containment areas, and compost or final disposal.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Develop and implement a written plan for holding and disposing of dead animals.
  • Make sure that mortality disposal adheres to municipal and provincial guidelines.
  • Locate disposal and loading (mortality collection) areas outside the production area to prevent contamination of the site.
  • Design and locate temporary containment and disposal areas in a way to prevent access by people, domestic animals, wildlife, and pests.
  • Manage post mortems and diagnostic tests to prevent further contamination.
  • Appropriately dispose of contaminated bedding, animal products, manure, or feed.
  • Situate dead animal pickup in a location that prevents further contamination.

2.9 Pets, Pests, Weeds, Feral Animals and Wildlife

Animals, insects, and birds create a unique set of risk situations. The farming of animals creates favourable environments for pests, including shelter, food, and water. Pests can be direct vectors for disease-causing agents, and they can spread disease through movement and create a food chain that attracts more, and possibly higher-risk pests.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Develop and implement an integrated pest management program.
  • Cut grass and vegetation around the production area to discourage pests and wildlife.
  • Monitor rubbish dumps and debris piles for vermin or wild animals.
  • Inspect buildings for pest activity, and maintain against access points.
  • Manage feed spills and food sources.
  • Secure entry points to animal housing, pens, and barns to prevent pest and wildlife access.
  • Ensure that measures are in place to prevent birds from nesting in barns.
  • Restrict the presence of companion animals in the production area.
  • Include working dogs in a biosecurity plan.
  • Manage and reduce risks posed from employees who own farmed animals, pets, and exotics.

2.10 Cleaning and Disinfection

Cleaning and disinfection are key pillars of a strong biosecurity plan. These processes work in conjunction with zoning and other measures. Cleaning and disinfection reduces pathogen load on people, equipment, and vehicles, which mitigates the risk of pathogen movement between and within production areas.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Develop and implement a production facility cleaning and disinfection program.
  • Plan acceptable downtimes between production cycles.
  • Clean production areas and equipment after each production cycle.
  • Remove all organic waste material regularly, during and after each production cycle.
  • Include a pre-cleansing and sanitizing step to remove remaining organic material before disinfecting.
  • Clean and disinfect the following, in the following ways:
    • removable equipment (separately);
    • isolation or quarantine areas (after use);
    • production areas (following a disease outbreak);
    • loading and unloading bays (after use); and
    • shared and borrowed farm equipment (before and after use).
  • Drain, disinfect, and refill water systems.
  • Routinely clean animal feeders and feeding areas.
  • Select disinfectants based on target organisms and needs.

2.11 Planning and Training

Knowledge supports the control of farm operations. It also allows for future planning as situations or production processes change. Developing and implementing a training program provides employees with a sense of involvement and pride, and helps to avoid complacency.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Assess disease risks, identifying and implementing biosecurity interventions, in consultation with your veterinarian, extension worker, and employees.
  • Define the biosecurity goals and standards that you wish to maintain.
  • Develop and implement a written, workable biosecurity plan.
  • Ensure that each production facility has a copy of the biosecurity plan.
  • Monitor, review, and change as situations change and new knowledge becomes available.
  • Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for routine biosecurity practices.
  • Provide employees and family members theoretical and practical training based on your plan.
  • Maintain periodic training and discussion sessions with staff and family members.
  • Share your biosecurity plan with neighbours, visitors, industry associations, and services.
  • Work and communicate with a veterinarian on a regular basis.
  • Keep well informed on animal health developments (locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally).

3. Animal Health Management

3.1 Good Management Practices

Developing, implementing, and maintaining good management practices allows a biosecurity plan to operate effectively and provides animals with an environment that is conducive to good health and maximum production.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Have a simple and practical written animal health and welfare plan in place.
  • Review your plan as necessary.
  • Comply with established animal welfare codes of practices and standards.
  • Implement modern management systems and innovations (such as segregated rearing systems and all-in/all-out management practices).
  • Ensure that staff and family are knowledgeable and experienced in disease prevention, identification, and control procedures.
  • Manage group size, age distribution, and animal flow.
  • Maintain a closed herd or flock.
  • Keep your herd or flock separate from those of neighbours.
  • Limit the use of equipment to one group of animals, if possible.
  • Maintain performance and health data.
  • Retain records of all animal and animal product (semen/embryos) movements and transactions for traceability purposes.
  • Plan animal introductions, and movement within and removal from the premises.
  • Establish a sound nutritional program.
  • Reduce environmental stressors.
  • Maintain biosecurity standards and communicate them to visitors and service sectors.

3.2 Observation and Evaluation

Early detection of a disease concern is vital to minimizing its impact and facilitating its containment to a premises or individual production units.

Interventions:

  • Observe and inspect livestock daily.
  • Consult a veterinarian as needed.
  • Establish trigger points (illness, declining production levels, higher morbidity and mortality levels) as a baseline for contacting your veterinarian.
  • Keep animal health records up to date.
  • Conduct routine testing and screening of resident animals for disease.
  • Contact your private veterinarian or government veterinarian immediately if unusual sickness or unexplained deaths occur.

3.3 New and Returning Animals

Introducing new animals, or animals returning from off-site activity, has the potential to introduce disease-causing agents into a production system.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Develop protocols with your veterinarian for introducing new or returning animals.
  • Obtain animals from reputable and biosecurity-concerned suppliers.
  • Purchase animals with a health status equivalent to or higher than that of your own.
  • Ensure that the health status of new animals is known.
  • Conduct appropriate screening tests, as recommended by your veterinarian or extension specialist at the time of purchase.
  • Obtain a vendor's declaration regarding the health status and treatment and vaccination history of new purchases.
  • Transport animals using a clean and disinfected truck or trailer.
  • Designate an isolation or quarantine facility within the production area, separate from other animals (no nose-to-nose contact or sharing of water, feed supplies, or equipment).
  • Isolate or quarantine new animals for an appropriate period of time, and observe daily.
  • Stage or minimize the frequency of new animal arrivals.
  • Isolate or quarantine animals returning from fairs, shows and exhibitions, and community pastures.
  • Clean and disinfect the equipment used with these animals.
  • Ensure that production area personnel who have had contact with other animals have no contact with quarantined or isolated animals.

3.4 Sick Animals

Sick animals can easily transmit disease through direct or indirect contact. Initially, the disease may be low grade; however, animals in a compromised or weakened condition are more susceptible to highly contagious and virulent disease agents.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Establish protocols for handling sick animals.
  • Remove and isolate from the remainder of the herd or flock those animals that are showing signs of disease.
  • Investigate sick animals for cause of disease.
  • Contact a veterinarian for appropriate tests and treatments.
  • Consider a test and cull approach (depending on the disease).
  • Contact a veterinarian or government official immediately if unusual sickness or unexplained death occurs.
  • Investigate and examine all abortions and unexplained deaths.
  • Use humane euthanasia procedures for sick, injured, and/or debilitated animals.
  • Keep isolated or quarantined animals away from all waste from non-quarantined animals, and away from any feed or water source.

3.5 Vaccination and Medication

Implementing proactive measures will help reduce the risk of disease becoming established on a farm. The appropriate use of medication, for example, can improve the efficacy of treatment and help reduce the risk of future concerns.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Develop a written animal health and welfare management plan (vaccination, worming, antibiotic and chemical therapy, parasite and fly control).
  • See that new animals are given appropriate parasite treatments and vaccinations before introduction into the resident stock.
  • Minimize the risk of drug residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Use all animal health products accordingly, following label and prescription directions.
  • Maintain a permanent record of all individual animal or group treatments.
  • Use new, sterile or disposable needles and syringes.
  • Retain copies of any written veterinary prescriptions for at least two years.

3.6 Disease Response Plans

The ability to react quickly and effectively to a disease situation is vital to minimizing the impact on an operation and helps prevent disease spread.

Biosecurity considerations:

  • Develop and implement a written disease response plan with your veterinarian, designed to control the movement of people, animals, vehicles, and equipment during outbreaks.
  • Include in the disease response plan the production trigger levels and detailed contact information of response personnel.
  • Ensure that workers are knowledgeable and experienced in observing animals and production parameters for signs of disease.
  • Ensure that family members and employees are familiar with disease-response procedures.
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