Basic principles for protecting animal health on Canadian farms - HTML5 Transcript/Captions
The health of Canada’s livestock and poultry is a key factor in the success of Canadian agriculture at home and around the world.
To remain competitive in evolving and increasingly sophisticated markets, Canadian producers are on the lookout for ways to improve their operations—including animal health.
Most producers already use some biosecurity practices. Many are simple and cost very little. All biosecurity measures can help protect not only the economic viability and profitability of our livestock and poultry sectors, but also human and animal health, food safety, and the environment.
Animal biosecurity aims to keep diseases off farms, and prevent them from spreading. In fact, farm-level biosecurity is the best investment you can make to help keep your animals healthy and your business strong.
And because certain diseases can affect both animals and humans, biosecurity measures are important for protecting the health of your family and employees.
You can achieve effective biosecurity by using a series of straightforward measures that create a circle of defence on your farm.
Watch how these biosecurity measures apply when managing farm access, animal health and farm operations. Although many of the measures are common sense—and are likely already in place on your farm—it’s important to review them regularly.
Your veterinarian or animal health expert can help you assess the risks to your operation, and then plan and implement appropriate biosecurity measures.
An effective biosecurity plan begins with measures to control access to your farm by everyone who visits, from staff and visitors to delivery and service personnel.
The first measure is to designate distinct zones where varying levels of protection may be needed.
If possible, indicate your farm’s boundaries. You can do this by using fencing and clear and visible signage. It’s also a good idea to limit access to a single entrance.
Your veterinarian can advise you about establishing restricted and controlled access zones.
The restricted access zone is the area of greatest biosecurity risk.
It’s where the animals are located and where access should be limited to essential personnel.
The controlled-access biosecurity zone is the buffer that surrounds the restricted zone. It provides a first level of biosecurity. Access to the controlled zone is less restricted but it should still be limited to necessary personnel.
Clearly identify the boundaries to all zones with signs or markers. Also, ensure entry and exit points can be locked—by using gates or fences.
You should control movement into and between the designated zones.
Make sure there’s a specific location where vehicles can be cleaned or disinfected when entering or leaving a biosecure zone.
Set up a transition area at the entrance to each production unit. Make sure hand-washing facilities are available at each entrance and exit.
Visitors’ access to all zones must be controlled. A simple visitors’ log will help you keep track of everyone who has been on the premises.
Your animal health expert or veterinarian can help you identify hygiene requirements for visitors and employees. These requirements may include special footwear and clothing, and hand-washing for anyone entering and leaving barns and production units.
When it comes to managing the movement of animals, there are basic biosecurity measures you can put into place to help protect your animals’ health.
Purchase new animals from suppliers with comprehensive disease-control programs. Be sure to practice animal identification. And participate in traceability systems when possible.
New animals should be isolated for a sufficient period of time to ensure they are not incubating a disease. Also, evaluate them for disease before they are introduced to the farm population. The evaluation should include examination by trained animal health experts, and may include tests for specific diseases.
And it’s not just new animals that should be isolated. Animals that have been off the farm, perhaps at fairs and exhibitions, should be segregated before rejoining the population.
Effectively managing your animals’ health also means that you observe them daily for signs of disease.
Monitoring should include regular consultations with your animal health expert. He or she can help you set up disease-prevention and herd-management programs, ensure your animal health records are up to date, and investigate animal deaths.
Make sure your staff look for signs of declining animal health. These include loss of appetite, weight loss, abnormal behavior and unexplained death.
Your animal health expert can also help keep you informed about diseases found or suspected in neighbouring operations and areas.
Planning is key, so that you can quickly respond to any potential disease situations.
Remember, your animal health expert is an excellent resource. He or she can help you prepare a response plan and identify the triggers that would set your plan in motion if an outbreak happens on your premises.
These triggers could include a large number of animals showing subtle signs of disease, such as declining production and decreased feed consumption.
Make sure your employees know about your plan and its disease-response procedures. Have current contact information for your animal-health expert and for district, provincial and territorial veterinarians, and post it in places where everyone can find it.
And be sure your response plan includes steps to limit the movement of animals and animal by-products, vehicles, equipment and people.
The final seven biosecurity measures deal with the operational management of your farm. Be sure to plan for the proper handling, temporary storage and disposal of deadstock according to provincial, territorial and municipal guidelines.
Good record-keeping is also essential when it comes to safely managing manure. Keep track of its treatment, sale and movement, as well as where and how it’s ultimately used.
Be sure to follow all regulatory guidelines for manure: removing, handling, storing and disposing of it.
Thorough cleaning is one of the most effective ways to prevent the introduction of disease and pests. Designate areas for cleaning equipment and vehicles that enter and exit your facility.
Set up a schedule to regularly clean all your buildings, and consider using disinfectants. Routinely clean water lines, animal drinkers and feeders.
Make sure regular maintenance is part of your farm’s schedule. This will make it easier to keep facilities, grounds and equipment clean.
Regular visual inspections can help eliminate problems before they happen.
Make sure production inputs such as bedding and feed come from suppliers that follow good manufacturing practices.
Proper storage can help protect feed from wildlife and pests, and protect bedding from contamination.
Evaluate your water supply regularly to ensure it is suitable for animal consumption.
Have an integrated pest control management plan. It is essential for minimizing possible disease introduction.
Cut back overgrown vegetation near animal housing areas.
Check entry points to make sure doors close securely.
Work with pest-control and animal health experts to keep insects and rodents in check, and to discourage birds from nesting in barns.
Finally, work with your staff to develop biosecurity plans. Make sure everyone understands the need for these plans and is trained in biosecurity practices. Visitors should also be made aware of these practices while on your farm.
Biosecurity measures should be part of an overall strategy that’s been developed in close and ongoing consultation with your animal health expert and your staff.
These consultations will help keep everyone on your team up to date on animal health issues—locally, nationally and internationally.
It’s important to keep the lines of communication open, with your neighbours, with industry associations and with animal-health experts.
And schedule regular training sessions to help your employees remain familiar with your biosecurity plan.
Biosecurity is a shared responsibility. We all have a role to play. That includes the livestock and poultry industries, animal health experts, government agencies and the Canadian public.
You can do your part no matter what kind of farm you have, or how big or small it is.
Control access to your farm and the movement of your animals.
Keep a close eye on your animals for early signs of disease, including changes in behaviour and appearance. Contact your animal health expert when the health of any animal is in question.
And regularly review your operation and your biosecurity measures. And stay up to date on developments in your industry.