Preventing Disease on the Farm
Wild animals, birds, water, feed, new animals and visitors can all bring
infection to the farm with them. Our aim is to pinpoint and eliminate
as many potential infections as possible on every farm, and to isolate
infections which do occur so that they do not become disease outbreaks.
Once infection occurs on a farm, management practices play a key role in
preventing outbreaks. Animals, like people, often get sick when they
are stressed. This means that maternity and hospital pens are
epicenters for infections. Overcrowding of these pens can contribute
to disease outbreaks, as can factors such as nutrition and shelter.
Plenty of shade and water during hot spells can help keep a herd healthy.
Farm management practices are very important in preventing infection as
well as treating it. Bird and rodent control, clean feed and water, hand and
boot washing facilities, and limited access for contaminated vehicles can
help keep pathogens off the farm.
Many dairies feed a total mixed ration, or TMR, which consists of several
different component feeds such as grain, hay, and silage. These are
mixed with water and supplements, and fed to cattle in bunks or alleys.
Bacteria can be introduced to the TMR in numerous ways. Birds and
wild animals defecate on feed storage piles. Tractors used to scrape
manure may still have traces of manure when they deliver feed. And
component feeds are sometimes contaminated before they even arrive at the
farm, perhaps from dirty transport vehicles. Steps can be taken to
avoid contamination and proliferation of bacteria in the TMR.
Eliminate Contamination of Feed
Eliminate nesting areas for birds, especially around feed storage sites.
Clean vehicle tires when they pass between animal storage areas and feed
storage areas. Any time a vehicle comes in contact with manure,
keep it out of feeding and feed storage areas. Clean the mixing truck
regularly. Use a sufficient amount of silage in the TMR.
- Chlorinate water.
- Quarantine sick animals.
- Do not overcrowd animals.
- Eliminate carrier animals.