National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity User Guide for the Equine Sector
Section 9: Biosecurity awareness, education and training

Goal: All people attending a farm or facility or coming into contact with the horses are aware of, knowledgeable about and comply with current biosecurity protocols and practices. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) for biosecurity protocols are developed and reviewed at least annually.

9.1 Leadership and biosecurity awareness

Goal: Custodians take responsibility for ensuring the biosecurity practices are established and communicated to everyone attending a farm or facility or coming into contact with horses.

Description:

Custodians of horses and farms or facilities are ultimately responsible for ensuring the health and well-being of their horses, including establishing and communicating biosecurity protocols. On farms or facilities where horses from multiple owners commingle, there is increased risk of the introduction and spread of pathogens.

Best practices:

  • custodians take responsibility for establishing and communicating biosecurity requirements;
  • designate a key person to be responsible for organizing, communicating and administering the biosecurity program;
  • maintain a contact list of owners, custodians, clients, farm, veterinarian, and facility workers to facilitate distribution of biosecurity materials;
  • ensure horse owners and custodians take responsibility for people accessing the property on their behalf (they should provide confirmation that these individuals are aware of the biosecurity protocols and received the necessary training and education to comply with the requirements);
  • maintain a copy of the biosecurity protocols in a centralized location that is accessible to all potential users; and
  • provide signage applicable to good biosecurity protocols.

9.2 Education and training

Goal: All custodians and /or horse owners, their family members, clients and farm or facility workers are educated, trained and regularly updated on the biosecurity risks, protocols and results. Service providers and visitors are advised and provided an orientation on biosecurity practices.

Description:

Successful biosecurity relies on people understanding the importance, purpose and their role in the farm/facility biosecurity program and adopting the practices as part of their routine. Some individuals (owners, custodians, clients and workers) will require knowledge and training in facility specific biosecurity practices. A written biosecurity plan is fundamental to ensuring horse health and wellness. Additional knowledge on horse health, diseases and regulatory requirements is important and should be obtained from sources of valid and reliable information. Opportunities for education and training should be identified and regularly reviewed.

Training and Education Checklist:

Name:

Position/Role:

Biosecurity training and education required (select those necessary) Resource materials used for training Date training completed
Biosecurity principles, risks, and the importance of biosecurity
Horse farm or facility management best practices manual
Biosecurity procedures and habits for regular duties
Biosecurity procedures for visitors, clients, and service providers
Biosecurity requirements and procedures for specific activities (for example, breeding, guest horse and/or new horse entry)
Introduction to horse health and diseases (basic level)
Procedures for monitoring horse health, including recognizing and reporting sickness
Contact information for health issues and emergencies, including the designated and back-up veterinarians
Record keeping including health records, reports and visitor log
Provincial and federal regulations governing or regulating infectious equine diseases
(Additional measures…)
(Additional measures…)

There are many options for acquiring the biosecurity knowledge and training required:

  • in-house orientation training sessions or meetings
  • on-the-job training by working under direct supervision
  • attending courses and seminars face-to-face or online
  • self-study

Best practices:

  • appoint a person to lead the process of developing and reviewing standard operating procedures (SOPs);
  • talk to your veterinarian during the development and/or review of your procedures to ensure you target the important risks;
  • incorporate the SOPs into all training and orientation;
  • develop (and translate if needed) resource materials that illustrate the biosecurity protocols as part of a training and awareness program (for example, a facility handbook, posters and other factsheets/resources) for adherence and use by all property attendees;
  • ensure training is provided at least annually and when there are changes to the biosecurity program;
  • identify what signage is needed and where educational materials and signage should be posted;
  • designate a person to be responsible for organizing and educating as necessary all property attendees and to administer the program;
  • train staff and other property attendees on measures relevant to their activities and functions that address the current risks. For example, a new disease outbreak, change in horse population at the premises or increased traveling;
  • maintain records of all training;
  • ask potential new staff (and other property attendees) about their training, experience and approach to biosecurity with horses. Those who understand and appreciate the seriousness and potential risks of disease spread will be an asset to your facility;
  • provide opportunities to discuss biosecurity issues with the designated administrator, manager or owner of the facility, boarders, guests and staff. Encourage all to discuss concerns and challenges with implementation of the biosecurity plan and provide support. Have a quick method to communicate any change in health status of a horse to the appropriate person;
  • hold "team meetings" to review protocols every time a biosecurity risk is identified and an "after-the-incident" review with everyone; and
  • train all horse handlers to understand and conduct a horse health check assessment, and record the results in the log book along with any concerns and follow-up.

Effective, ongoing communication is a critical component of a biosecurity plan. Changes in risks and procedures need to be communicated effectively to all participants. Feedback is critical to developing good techniques.

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