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Biosecurity on the Small Farm

By Diane DeWitte
Extension Educator, Le Sueur and Blue Earth Counties

Biosecurity is an integral part of all livestock enterprises, and is particularly emphasized in large, concentrated swine, poultry and dairy farms. Just because the small farm or hobby farm isn't producing large numbers of livestock doesn't mean that biosecurity shouldn't be an important part of the farm operation.

Biosecurity is the practice of excluding livestock from outside people and animals, limiting traffic in and out of the farm, and using barriers and disinfectants to reduce the chance of disease spread from outside sources.

It's simple to set up a biosecurity procedure on the small farm.

1. Limit the traffic of people in and out of your livestock. Post a sign in your driveway instructing visitors to contact farm personnel to be escorted through the livestock. Have disposable plastic boots available for visitors, then provide a container for them to discard the footwear when finished. If your visitor has had contact with other animals or birds, ask him/her to wear a pair of your farm coveralls. Never underestimate the potential of a human visitor to accidentally carry a disease to your farm.

2. Limit the contact of pets, wildlife, feral domestic animals, rodents, and wild birds with livestock on the small farm. Keep your pets close to home and do not allow them to roam the neighborhood. Provide screening and fencing in your poultry yard to prevent interaction of wild birds with your poultry. Your farm activities should include a regularly-scheduled rodent control plan.

3. Keep a disinfectant foot bath pan available for visitors. This can act as double security by allowing visitors to step into a product which will kill microorganisms on their footwear. Iodophors ( Betadine), chlorhexidines (Nolvasan), and phenols (Environ) can be used in foot baths.

4. Do not wear your farm clothes and footwear when visiting other animals, attending auctions, flea markets or livestock exhibitions. Wash those clothes separately from farm laundry.

5. Quarantine new animals and birds for 30 days. Create a separate place on your farm to hold them for acclimation and observation. Have new livestock checked by a veterinarian before introducing them to your herd or flock.

6. Keep accurate records of livestock and poultry movement in and out of your farm. In the event of a disease outbreak on your farm or in the neighborhood, good records can help animal health officials determine the source or spread of a disease.