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Disease prevention

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An outbreak of a serious emergency animal disease can be disastrous for producers, causing significant personal stress and anguish as well as financial hardship.

Spread of disease

Disease can spread in myriad ways – not just among the animals themselves:

  • movement of animals, people and machinery between and within farms
  • farm visitors – people and vehicles
  • introduction of new animals
  • contact with neighbours’ livestock
  • shared farm equipment
  • contamination by vermin and wild birds
  • animals drinking from contaminated rivers and streams.

Preventing the spread of disease

It doesn’t take much for disease to spread; however, maintaining vigilance and making some small common sense can usually be enough to keep disease at bay:

  • be aware of the need for biosecurity
  • make a herd/flock health plan with your vet including isolation for new or returning stock
  • don’t bring infection onto your farm, or spread it around your farm, on your clothes, footwear or hands
  • where possible, limit and control farm visitors – people and vehicles
  • keep farm access routes, parking areas, yards, feeding and storage areas clean and tidy
  • have pressure washers, brushes, hoses, water and disinfectant available and make sure visitors use them
  • don’t allow contact with neighbours' livestock – maintain your fences
  • don’t share injecting and dosing equipment – if it can’t be avoided, cleanse and disinfect thoroughly
  • clean then disinfect any farm machinery/equipment if sharing with a neighbouring farm
  • implement a pest control programme
  • fence off streams and rivers – supply clean fresh drinking water in troughs
  • keep livestock away from freshly spread slurry for six weeks
  • ensure identification and record keeping is accurate and up to date
  • dispose of fallen stock properly.

Cattle Keepers’ Guide to Safeguarding Health

The Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group (AHWF) has produced a guidebook for cattle keepers on how they can protect their herd from certain diseases. The “Cattle Keepers’ Guide to Safeguarding Health” aims to provide farmers with information on the steps they can take to help protect their herd from these important diseases. The guidebook provides information on the signs of each disease and what can be done to prevent them spreading.

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