Biosecurity: Steps to Keeping Your Livestock Healthy

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With commercial and backyard poultry farms in parts of the United States continuing to be affected by the High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak, now is a good time to review biosecurity measures for your farm. Biosecurity at the farm level refers to measures taken to prevent pests or diseases from entering your premises and to control outbreaks if they do occur. This is particularly important if you own or work with animals. Two basic biosecurity measures for protecting livestock from diseases are purchasing healthy stock and preventing any exposure to disease organisms. Other preventive measures include proper nutrition, sanitation, and controlling animal and human traffic on and off the farm. If disease occurs, control measures include early detection and treatment.

It does not matter if you are a large-scale producer or a non-commercial livestock owner; you have the responsibility for keeping your animals healthy. Below are seven simple steps you can adopt on your property.

  1. Regularly check animals for unusual disease symptoms and immediately report them to your local veterinarian or livestock professional. Isolate sick animals from the herd.
  1. Develop proper signage. Post signs for designated areas that are restricted to visitors. Signs should be clearly visible with large print (easily seen at least 25 yards away).
  1. Keep farm vehicles and equipment clean. Do not permit dirty equipment or vehicles to enter your farm without ensuring they are clean and free of soil, seeds, manure, and other contaminants.
  1. Manage the movement of visitors on your property. Have a designated place for visitor parking. Provide visitors with outerwear (disposable plastic boots, masks, coveralls, and gloves).
  1. Limit the use of your machinery or equipment also used to travel to common livestock locations (e.g., feed store, stockyard) where there is a concentration or frequent turnover of animals. Equipment should be clean, dry, and preferably disinfected before returning to the farm.
  1. Quarantine new animals and/or sick animals on the farm. Select an area that permits you to isolate these animals for three weeks before introducing/reintroducing them to your existing herd/flock.
  1. Do not allow your feed and water and to become contaminated with manure or other animal waste. Feed should be kept off the ground in rodent-proof containers in a dry location.

For more information on biosecurity, please contact Nelson Brownlee, Extension Area Small Farms Agent, at 910-671-3276, by email at, or visit our website.