In the winter months, people often take extra precautions against illnesses like the flu or the common cold because they understand the benefits of staying healthy. Every farmer knows that simple on-farm actions help keep animals healthy. But routine best practices — as well as enhanced ones that are especially important in a world of animal disease outbreaks that destroy markets as well as herds—are critical to keep top-of-mind as farmers strive to have healthy animals, healthy employees, and a healthy dairy economy.
That’s why the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program created the first Everyday Biosecurity Manual. Biosecurity is the newest FARM Program area, beginning in 2021 through funding from USDA’s National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program. It focuses on increasing awareness of biosecurity throughout the dairy industry by providing practical and effective steps to further promote cattle health. This voluntary program complements the animal health and husbandry recommendations included in the FARM Animal Care, Drug Residue Prevention, and Environmental Stewardship programs.
Seven areas to protect health
The Everyday Biosecurity Manual outlines small, routine steps dairy farmers can take to protect herd and employee health through seven areas — animal health and disease monitoring, animal movements and contact, animal products, vehicles and equipment, personnel, cleaning and disinfection, and a line of separation. Putting everyday biosecurity measures in place can prevent the introduction, detect the presence, and contain the spread of diseases among both cattle and people. Everyday biosecurity practices protect against common diseases like contagious mastitis, respiratory infections, and scours. With effective everyday biosecurity steps, farmers can prevent or lessen the impact of these diseases on their cattle.
Biosecurity is a multistep process. Along with everyday measures, producers also need enhanced biosecurity to protect cattle from highly contagious foreign animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). FARM Biosecurity also complements the Secure Milk Supply (SMS) Plan for Continuity of Business during an FMD outbreak, which includes enhanced biosecurity recommendations. The FARM Biosecurity program aligns everyday steps with these enhanced steps to ensure producers have the right tools to protect their cattle from common or high-consequence diseases.
The SMS Plan was developed in collaboration with industry representatives, state and federal animal health officials, and academic partners with USDA funding beginning in 2009. In an FMD outbreak, dairy farms located in a regulatory control area would need a movement permit issued by the state to ship cattle, semen, embryos, and possibly raw milk. The FARM Biosecurity Program is also developing an online option for producers, their veterinarian, and their FARM evaluator to create an enhanced biosecurity plan ahead of an outbreak. Once put in place, cattle will be better protected against FMD, and producers will be better positioned to meet the biosecurity movement permit requirement to move their cattle and products during an FAD outbreak.
Good biosecurity takes time and practice to be effective. Making these practices routine — or reinforcing the best management practices in the Everyday Biosecurity Manual — can help protect animals from all kinds of diseases. This ultimately moves the industry one step closer to protecting cattle and the U.S. milk supply. Visit nationaldairyfarm.com/farm-biosecurity/ for more information.