Biosecurity Planning Guide for Canadian Goat Producers
Appendix A: Writing a standard operating procedure (SOP)

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What is an SOP? "Written procedure prescribed for repetitive use as a practice, in accordance with agreed upon specifications aimed at obtaining a desired outcome."

As part of a herd health program, the herd veterinarian may provide explicit instructions for the producer on specific management procedures or management of certain disease conditions. A well-written SOP will provide objective and thorough instructions that complement a herd health program. They will provide evidence of a valid veterinary client patient relationship, which may include the proper extra-label use of animal health products (ELDU) and appropriate withdrawal times. They may provide information on what to do until the veterinarian arrives or when it is prudent and timely to call the veterinarian.

The structure of an SOP may vary depending on the issue being addressed.

Numbered sequence:
This is a list of tasks to be completed in the order that they are to be performed. No decision-making or data input is required.
Flow chart:
Requires decision-making or data input at one or more steps. For example, if a temperature is greater than or less than a certain cut-point, the person may be directed to perform different tasks or administer different treatments.
Additional information:
Information on what to do if things go wrong, or if an adverse reaction occurs. It may be as simple as "call the vet!" or it may be to highlight a specific risk (e.g., accidental injection of a potentially toxic medication).
Ancillary documents:
This may also include records to be kept relevant to the SOP. Some SOPs may require additional documentation, e.g., a feed prescription for ELDU use of medicated feeds.

The SOP consists of:

This should be a succinct and accurate description of the SOP being addressed.
Rationale for the SOP:
A short description of the disease or health issue being addressed.
The SOP:
In language that is clear and succinct. Depending on the SOP, it may be a numbered sequence or an algorithm. If the latter, indicate clearly what data needs to be assessed and the cut-off points for each decision point. Structure the SOP so that it can be posted in the relevant management area.
Additional Information:
This includes (where relevant) appropriate withdrawals for meat and milk; risk to humans or animals; where to seek additional help if a problem arises, etc. It may also include a list of supplies, medications and equipment needed to execute the SOP.
Ancillary Documents:
Describe any record-keeping that should be done to ensure that the SOP is being followed properly or to ensure that it is working. List any other documents that might need to be included, e.g., if a feed prescription is required, indicate this.
Outcome Assessment:
Indicate here what outcomes should be measured, which would indicate that the SOP was (or was not) being executed successfully or was accomplishing its purpose.

Appendix A was kindly provided by Dr. Paula Menzies.

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