Biosecurity for Animals and Animal Facilities

One of the best ways to protect your animals, whether pets, livestock or poultry, from getting sick is to practice good biosecurity. Biosecurity is another way of saying “infectious disease control” and refers to everything done to keep diseases and the germs that cause them (viruses, bacteria, funguses, parasites and other organisms) away from your animals, property, and the people that may interact with them. This is important whether your animals are on your farm, moving from one production site to another, going to auction, or participating in a show or event.

Biosecurity not only protects you and your animals, it also protects your neighbors, employees, and in the case of livestock and poultry, your consumers. This makes it the responsibility of all animal owners to keep their animals safe and disease free. 

To protect your animals from diseases or harmful agents, IDALS recommends writing and carrying out your own specific biosecurity plan, Use the following general guidelines to lower the chance your animals get sick:

  • Implementing regular preventative veterinary care, such as vaccines, anti-parasitics, etc. 
    • Speak to your veterinarian about what you can do to protect your animals.
       
  • Reducing exposure to wildlife and feral animals (Eliminate Wildlife Exposures). 
    • Rodents, wild birds, raccoons, stray cats and dogs, and other wild animals can transmit diseases to your animals. The facility or housing where you keep your animals should stop wildlife from coming into direct contact with your animals.
       
  • Feeding properly prepared foods (Safe Feeding Practices). 
    • Foods not correctly prepared can make animals sick. Animal owners are responsible for ensuring their animals are eating safe and nutritious foods, using FDA approved feeds or ensuring any food by-products or food ingredients arriving at their facility are from a reputable source. Store feed in a way that keeps wildlife (i.e. rodents) out of it.
       
  • Reducing exposure to insects (Vector Control). 
    • Insects (flies, ticks, mosquitoes, etc.) can give your animals diseases. The facility or housing where you keep your animals should stop these pests from your animals. When this is not possible speak with your veterinarian about what you can do to protect your animals from these pests.
       
  • Controlling and monitoring people’s access to your facility (Limit Visitors). 
    • People can unknowingly carry diseases on their bodies or clothing. Do not allow anyone that was recently in a country where Foreign Animal Diseases are present to have contact with your livestock or poultry for at least five days after they return to the United States. Do not allow anyone to wear any clothing (including footwear) around your livestock or poultry they wore outside the United States. 
       
  • Ensuring everyone at your facility understands biosecurity (Educate employees).
    • Anyone regularly interacting with your animals, including family members, should have proper training on how to “cleanly” enter animal housing areas. For some facilities (such as swine or poultry facilities) this may mean completely showering-in and showering-out. For other livestock facilities this may mean changing outerwear and using disposable boot covers. 
       
  • Controlling movement onto and off your facility with “clean” and “dirty” lines (Stop horizontal transmission).
    • The normal “ins” and “outs” for your facility can bring diseases to your animals. This can include “dirty” trucks accidently carrying germs to your facility as they come and go during part of the normal business day (i.e. delivering feed, removing dead animals, bringing replacement animals, etc.). Reduce this risk by clearly establishing “clean” and “dirty” areas where these vehicles are and are not allowed. Livestock or poultry facilities can further reduce this risk by having vehicles go through cleaning stations before coming on the premises.
       
  • Properly removing dead animals and animal waste (Disposal).
    • Dead animals and animal waste should be removed from areas housing live animals as quickly as possible. Remove them using a separate entrance/exit from the one used to bring live animals into the facility.
       
  • Maintaining a clean environment (Cleaning and disinfection).
    • When cleaning areas that house your animals remember the saying, “you can’t disinfect dirt.” This means you must clean before disinfecting. Most disinfectants do not work in the presence of organic materials like dirt, dust, and animal wastes. Different disinfectants require different minimum contact times to work and longer times in cold temperatures. Follow the instructions on the label for the disinfectant you are using. Work with your veterinarian to develop the most effective cleaning and disinfection protocol for you.

In addition to these recommendations, the following resources can help you create a good biosecurity plan for your animals:

Species Specific Resources

Swine

Cattle

Poultry

Equine

Small Ruminants

Zoo Animals

Companion Animals

General Resources