Dairy herd biosecurity teams important

By Ken Bolton, UW-Extension Dairy and Livestock Agent, Jefferson County, Wis

As dairy farms grow, food safety and milk quality has become more of an issue. Concepts of whole herd health are becoming more popular than the approach of treating individual animals. As an alternative, biosecurity plans encompass all areas of milk production directed towards reducing the odds of bringing disease onto the farm as well as minimizing the effects of disease when it does occur.
Carolyn Burns, of Pennsylvania State University, recommends that advisory teams made up of a veterinarian, nutritionist and other dairy advisors help producers define farm goals and develop a biosecurity program. Team members can play a major role in developing good management plans for isolation, traffic control and sanitation. Current farm practices can then be evaluated for weak areas that might pose a problem to biosecurity.
The team will then routinely evaluate records to monitor progress toward achieving farm goals or fine tune areas that need corrective actions. The team should draw a flow chart showing animal movement and identify critical control points for all groups of animals, from the time they arrive on the farm to the time they leave. Precautions need to be established so that all disease hazards posed by adult animals are kept away from newborn calves and young heifers.
Purchased cattle present their own problems when coming onto a farm even with pre-purchase testing. If the farm plans to purchase cows, arrangements for isolation will help protect the new cattle and the established herd from new diseases. The isolation period also allows time to re-test new cows for diseases such as Strep ag., Staph aureus and Mycoplasma mastitis and BVD.
Sanitation is another major area to consider when establishing good management plans. Efforts in keeping housing clean and dry will decrease exposure to organisms that cause disease. Removing sick animals to another pen, separate from fresh cows and other animals, helps to reduce exposure. It is advisable to clean and sanitize these pens after every use. If possible, leave these pens empty for a few days before reusing.
The ideas of biosecurity are fairly simple, but implementing such practices on a routine basis is essential to achieving biosecurity. With the increasing interest in controlling the spread of animal disease, individual farm biosecurity programs are vital to the success of today’s dairy business.
Contact the UW-Extension Jefferson County Office at 920-674-7295 for more information.