Biosecurity (biological safety and well-being) is the management practice that prevents infectious diseases from being carried into a herd or onto a premises. The goal of a biosecurity program is to prevent the transmission of disease-causing agents to animals by direct or indirect means. Effective biosecurity management practices are designed to prevent the spread of disease by minimizing movement of biological organisms and their vectors onto and within premises. These management practices are based on the principle that it is easier to prevent disease than treat or react to a problem caused by disease.
The advantages of adopting a biosecurity program are numerous. An effective program can improve the cost efficiency of the farm, improve the reputation of the producer, and allow the producer to better maintain the health status of the herd. A biosecurity program is one of the most effective means of disease control available, and no disease prevention program will work without it.
Disease: Its Causes and How It Is Spread
One of the first steps that must be taken to implement a biosecurity program is to learn what causes disease so illness can be prevented. Diseases and ill health are caused by bacteria such as those that cause caseous lymphadenitis; by viruses as in the case of caprine arthritis encephalitis; or by parasites such as coccidia. The spread of disease is multifactorial. It depends on host factors (health, immune status, etc.), environmental factors (temperature, stocking rate, pasture condition, etc.), and the disease agent itself. The key to a good biosecurity program is to break the transmission of disease or minimizes its effect.
Issues that must be considered in the spread or transmission of diseases in a goat herd are:
1. The introduction of diseased goats or healthy goats incubating the diseases, also known as carrier animals.
2. The possibility of contamination by vehicles, equipment, clothing, and other contaminated inanimate objects.
3. Proper and timely disposal of carcasses of dead animals.
4. Proper management of feedstuffs and water to ensure they do not become contaminated.
5. The proper handling of manure.
6. The control of non-livestock vectors (birds, rodents, insects, cats, etc.).
Aspects of an Effective Biosecurity Program
The issues an effective biosecurity program must address can be complicated because of all the potential routes of disease transmission. An effective disease control program must address the following:
1. Traffic control
3. Food safety
4. Personal hygiene
5. Good Management Practices (GMP) and Generally Accepted (GA) hygiene
6. Quality assurance/herd health
Although the issues that a biosecurity program must address are diverse and complicated, the management practices that are a part of an effective program are usually simple and easy to incorporate into a normal production system.
One of the first and most important aspects of a biosecurity program that should be incorporated into a producer’s management plan is to know what is normal and abnormal in both live animals and at slaughter. The table below includes examples of signs of health and illness in goats.
|Healthy Goats||Signs of Illness|
|Good appetite||Poor appetite|
|Shiny coat||Dull coat, hair falling out|
|Bright and clear eyes||Runny eyes|
|Well fleshed||Weight loss|
|Normal body temperature 103.1° – 104.9°F||Fever 105.8°F or higher; hypothermia below 98°F|
|Strong legs and feet||Lameness, swollen joints|
|Pink gums||Anemic (pale gums)|
|Firm pelleted stool||Diarrhea|
|No swelling in any body extremity||Swelling in any body part|
|Chewing cud||Not chewing cud|
|Normal breathing||Labored breathing, coughing, rapid breathing|
|Urinates without difficulty||Strains or cries when urinating or unable to urinate|
The following are some measures and practices that should be adopted by producers to ensure safety and herd health:
1. Prevent problems rather than correct them.
2. Implement individual and premises animal identification programs.
3. Keep good records. Records should track and validate management practices done on the farm.
Other biosecurity measures that can be adopted into an effective program:
1. Attempt to prevent manure contamination by never stepping in feed bunks.
2. Routinely clean and disinfect feeding equipment, which can be done with chlorine, iodine, or quatenary ammonia products (QAPs).
3. Routinely clean and disinfect equipment used to medicate animals, especially equipment used on multiple animals.
4. Provide clean area for restraint, treatment, and isolation of sick animals.
5. Consult with a veterinarian or animal health personnel when goats are ill or die unexpectedly.
6. Monitor and manage visitor traffic.
7. Clean contaminated vehicles and equipment.
8. Know health history of herds where new animals are purchased.
9. Know health status of animals brought into herd.
10. Transport animals in clean vehicles.
11. Quarantine and isolate new and sick animals.
12. Sanitarily dispose of dead stock.
13. Have a control program for other animals that could spread disease (rodents, insects, external parasites, etc.)
14. Control manure and dispose of it frequently.
15. Maintain good personal hygiene.
16. Be observant.
17. Maintain a good client-patient relationship with a veterinarian.
18. Have a sound vaccination program.
Biosecurity is very important to the entire agricultural industry, from producers to consumers. Producers who successfully control the introduction and spread of disease on their farm not only benefit themselves but also the entire industry. Disease control reduces medication and treatment costs and increases consumer confidence regarding the safety and wholesomeness of products produced by the industry. A good biosecurity program is critical to this success. Although a good biosecurity program must address many issues, it can be simple and effective at the same time. The implementation of a program that focuses on prevention of disease includes an individual and premises identification program, tracks and validates management practices, keeps the environment sanitary, prevents cross-contamination between sick and healthy animals, and includes routine evaluations that should effectively control the spread and introduction of disease.