There are many aspects that contribute to the day-to-day running of a farm, ranging from arable to livestock farming – including ploughing fields, treating crops or attending to animal welfare, all of which are important for the general running of a farm.
Biosecurity is the act of protecting your farm from infectious diseases. It also involves making sure no trace of the disease leaves your farm, should you fall victim to an outbreak. These diseases are often caused by viruses, bacteria, and other organisms, which can severely affect the health and welfare of your livestock.
Some of the most common infectious diseases in farm animals include:
As a farmer, you must do everything you can to prevent diseases from entering and spreading across your farm. If a case occurs, it is crucial that you isolate it and ensure it doesn’t spread any further. Without proper biosecurity, you risk the loss of farm animals, operational downtime, negative impacts on your farms reputation and financial losses.
One of the most important tasks for farmers is caring for their livestock and biosecurity is an enormous part of that, which includes keeping farm animals in a safe, secure, and clean environment.
Watch our video explaining on-farm biosecurity
Lower the risk of spreading disease
The main goal of biosecurity is to prevent the spread of disease. Contagious animal diseases can be introduced to farms in many ways, such as wild animals, as well as visitors, such as people and vehicles. Biosecurity helps to track movement and potential entry points or issues across a farm, reducing the likelihood of them entering and spreading. By implementing stringent biosecurity protocols, you not only lower the risk of diseases spreading, but also save your livestock, reduce stress levels, the risk of spreading diseases to neighbouring farms and avoids the financial burden of an outbreak.
Avoid economic consequences
Another consequence that can be felt due to a lack of biosecurity measures is the potential knock-on effects on the economy. Not only are the impacts felt across your farm and on your livestock, which can financially be costly, it can also cause shortages across the country.
As well as having an effect on your farm directly, it also affects the industry as a whole. For example, the Foot and Mouth Disease of 2001 saw around 2,000 outbreaks across the UK, which caused 6.5 million animals to be depopulated and cost the UK around £8 billion. Similarly, outbreaks can cause country-wide shortages, with the bird flu epidemic of 2022 sparking concerns of turkey shortages, due to the H5N1 strain, spreading quickly across the UK.
Maintain your reputation
A farm’s reputation is important. Effective biosecurity methods, which mitigate the risks of an outbreak, can lower the likelihood of you suffering reputational damage. Ensuring you have the correct biosecurity processes in place reinforces your commitment to ensuring the welfare of your animals and those of your neighbouring farms.
Common signs of diseases in your farm animals
Biosecurity is not just about preventing disease – it is also about stopping the further spread of disease once it has been confirmed on-farm. Here are some of the most common signs of disease in your farm animals:
- Sudden death
- Severe illness
- Loss of mobility
- Blisters on the body
- Presence of ticks and maggots
If you notice any of these symptoms on your farm, you should isolate the affected animals and test them as soon as possible. If the disease suspected on-farm is a notifiable disease, you may be required to contact the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
How to improve biosecurity:
- Accurate, detailed and up-to-date records
- Well maintained buildings and farm in general
- Enforcing strict security measures
- Prevent unwanted visitors, like rodents entering
- Keep staff updated and trained
- Ensure bedding is stored safely and not contaminated
- Implement cleansing and disinfection measures for staff and vehicles
- Follow the latest guidance and regulations provided by governing bodies.
Download our 8 steps to a biosecure infographic here.
Livetec are biosecurity experts
For over a decade, Livetec have been involved in a wide range of notifiable and non-notifiable disease outbreaks across the UK and have seen the impacts an outbreak has on farms, its livestock and farmers.