TB incident a reminder: biosecurity is not optional!

Feb 24, 2012
by WLJ

Biosecurity, and its role in the swine industry, has always been a mandatory practice while some of its importance to the beef industry in recent years has diminished. With the tuberculosis (TB) incident recently documented in eastern South Dakota, cattlemen have good reason to re-evaluate biosecurity measures within their production programs.

Biosecurity involves the procedures identified to prevent the introduction of disease into a herd or the spread of them within the production system. Late winter/early spring is the time of year when new herd sires or bred heifers/cows are introduced to cow/calf operations. With winter farm shows and production sales already in progress, the following guidelines may offer cattlemen valuable advice when considering appropriate biosecurity measures for new purchases:

• Build or design your biosecurity plan with the help and guidance of your veterinarian. They should be “source-1” in all biosecurity discussions; • Mobility of our society makes visitors, neighbors and even family potential vectors of diseases. Do not apologize for asking visitors to your operation to wear plastic boot liners as they do so; • Leave your dog or cat home when you visit other cattle operations or go to the sale barn. They are potential transporters of disease organisms from other premises; • Become knowledgeable about the herd health history of the source herd of the intended purchase. Learn about their vaccination program and parasite management protocols; • Rodent control is a must! Where large volumes of hay, silage and grain-storage facilities are involved, a commercial bait program should be considered; • Isolating and quarantining purchased animals for a minimum of 30 days is a standard recommendation. “Offsite” locations have obvious benefits, if that is an option.

Complacency towards biosecurity within today’s hightech/high-investment cattle operations can result in disastrous consequences. Renewed awareness of biosecurity procedures by cow/calf operators is imperative in preventing disease introductions and spread within the herd. — Jim Krantz, South Dakota State University