Livestock Biosecurity


What Is It and Why Should I care?

Biosecurity refers to strategies and management practices that lessen biological risk. On a farm, attention to biosecurity is the most important measure to reduce and prevent the introduction of diseases or pests of animals and plants. Biosecurity practices also minimize the spread of diseases or pests within a farm system. Many aspects of biosecurity are common sense, but if these strategies and practices are not enforced consistently, there is a greater risk of introducing animal or plant diseases and facing their accompanying economic costs.  

Biosecurity practices on livestock farms and ranches include sanitation, animal management, feed management, facility maintenance,  manure handling, and disposal of dead animals. The following is a list of best practices.


Employee Sanitation

  • Provide on-farm laundry facilities for all employees.
  • Encourage employees to wash farm clothing with detergents and bleach.
  • Have employees wash their hands before and after milking animals, working with sick animals, and working with young animals.
  • Provide gloves when frequent cleaning between animals is necessary.
  • Have workers wear some type of medical exam gloves when helping with births.
  • Order tasks so employees work with younger animals before working with older animals. Young animals are  susceptible to diseases carried by older animals.

Equipment Sanitation

  • Clean and disinfect equipment that has been used on sick animals before using on healthy animals.
  • Clean and disinfect hoof knives, clippers, tattoo pliers, ear taggers, ear notchers and dehorners between uses.
  • Use the farm’s own halters and clippers whenever possible.
  • Sanitize nursing bottles and buckets before each feeding.
  • Don’t use equipment that has handled manure for transporting or delivering feed.

            Vehicle and Transport Sanitation

  • Make sure visitor and service vehicles don’t drive over feed delivery or manure handling routes.
  • Locate holding pens for animal pickups near the road and away from the herd and barn areas.
  • Keep visitor vehicles out of areas that are accessible to livestock.
  • Have visitors move from younger to older animal groups when touring the farm.
  • Ensure that bedding in trucks is clean and ample when moving livestock to prevent both injuries and disease.
  • Wash and disinfect the outside, inside, and especially the tires of vehicles that transport livestock to other farms.

           Boot Cleaning

  • Scrub off any visible dirt before thoroughly disinfecting boots.
  • Soak boots in a clean solution of disinfectant mixed according to the product’s directions.
  • Provide disposable booties for visitors and dispose on site.

Animal Management

  • Keep animals that are new to the farm in a separate holding area. A quarantine period should be established to facilitate monitoring and testing the health status of new animals. This will also help to prevent the spread of diseases to the existing herd from animals that might be harboring a disease without exhibiting any clinical signs.
  • Young animals should be kept in a separate area from more mature animals to minimize the exposure of more susceptible animals.
  • Keep an isolation area that is intended for only sick animals.
  • Meet the standards for pen, stall, or bedded area space per animal in your care.
  • Always handle sick animals last.
  • Vaccinate farm dogs and cats against rabies to protect humans and animals. Consider vaccinating livestock, too.
  • Prevent fence line contact between your livestock and other animals.
  • Remove manure and bedding and disinfect pens, especially maternity and sick pens, between animals.

Feed Management

  • Keep food storage areas inaccessible to rodents, birds, dogs, cats, and any wildlife.
  • Repeatedly check for and dispose of moldy or spoiled material in silos, bins, and bunks.
  • Place or empty opened bags into containers that have tight lids to protect from pests and water.
  • Clean storage areas frequently.
  • Remove and dispose of feed refusals if not consumed within 24 hours.
  • Store bags of feed off the floor on pallets.
  • Rotate feed inventory to reduce the presence of harmful organisms or toxins in stored feeds.
  • Clean waterers once a week.
  • Protect all water sources and containers from animal carcasses (e.g. dead birds or vermin) and manure.

Facility Maintenance

  • Be wary of rodent dens and hiding places. Set baits and traps where necessary.
  • Repair holes in buildings to prevent entry of pests.
  • Check for weather damage and fix anything that needs to be repaired.
  • Remove any standing water that can turn into a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
  • Check and maintain fences.
  • Replace bird netting if needed.

Manure Handling

  • Ensure the manure handling system prevents environmental contamination and complies with your state’s accepted agricultural practices.
  • Use equipment to handle manure that is not used for feed.
  • Compost or store manure in conditions that destroy disease-causing bacteria.
  • Remove manure frequently to prevent the completion of life cycles of flies and intestinal parasites.
  • Store manure so that it is inaccessible to livestock, especially young animals.
  • Prevent run-off or transfer of manure from older to younger groups of animals.
  • Avoid tracking manure through feed bunks.

Disposal of Dead Animals

  • Dispose of carcasses promptly. Options for disposal include calling a licensed deadstock collector, burial in an approved animal disposal pit, or composting.
  • Check with local and state authorities regarding disposal regulations in your area.
  • Call a veterinarian prior to disposal if the animal exhibited neurological signs prior to death. 

Where to Find Additional Information