Biosecurity tips on Cattle farms


Biosecurity tips on Cattle farms

Prevention is the main message during this COVID-19 pandemic. Scientists are looking for a vaccine in order to lessen the impact of disease in individuals, but certainly focussed on the decrease of viral circulation (herd-immunity) and hence to reduce the incidence of this emerging infectious disease. To control infectious diseases, together with vaccination, other biosecurity measures need to be in place. A few tips for biosecurity in cattle are highlighted below.



  • To protect operations against the likelihood of disease entering into and spreading through their cattle population and being passed to other livestock operations.

  • To minimise the incidence and spread of microorganisms of public health significance.

  • Additionally, management practices employed will vary from site to site. Thus it is important that a risk assessment be conducted for each enterprise to establish the level of risk that exists in each phase of its operations and to identify and implement control measures appropriate to these risks.

In any animal facility, biosecurity measures rely on 5 stages:



Limiting the risk of introduction

a. Buying in animals:

Avoid buying in animals (closed farm). If animals are bought:

  • Purchase with biosecurity component/disease free status.
  • Arrival inspection (disease).
  • Disease records for arrival animals.
  • Track & trace.
  • Quarantine no less than one week.

b. Specific clothes on each farm:

Farm-wear (overalls & wellies) should only be used within one farm. Every visitor ought to use specific clothes on each farm.

Otherwise, disinfection of clothes should be done on entrance and when leaving the farm.

  • Controlled access for service personnel and visitors.
  • Entering area before farm entrance.
  • Registration of visitors.


c. Feed and Bedding supplies:

Preferred suppliers (GMP) including papers (free of residu/contaminants). 


d. Uploading and downloading areas out of the premises:

Both livestock and fallen stock ought to be loaded outside the farm.


e. Vehicles and materials (including semen and embryos) entering the farm:

  • External equipment can be used if clean and free of organic matter.
  • Establish the biosecurity risk of all materials.
  • Do not share equipment for cleaning and feeding (unless cleaned and disinfected).
  • Park outside the production area if possible.
  • If vehicles are taken to production areas, biosecurity risk needs to be assessed (incl cleaning and disinfection status)


f. Pest and vermin control program:

Introduce in the farm a control program to avoid rats, mice, insects and wildlife that can spread disease.



Limiting the spread within the same facility


a. Herd immunity:

Vaccination in order to reduce viral circulation.


b. Movement of animals & overstocking:

Reducing the movement of animals between batches as much as possible (compartmentation) and avoid overstocking.


c. Calving area:

Ideally, individual calving pens should be available and disinfected after each calving. Otherwise, reduced calving pens should be cleansed and disinfected at least weekly.


d. Nursery:

A pen or an area should be designated for this purpose, where diseased animals ought to be placed in isolation.


e. Quarantine area for entering animals:

See above. 


f. Water, feed and bedding:

  • Storage: Avoid contamination by livestock, insects, wildlife, vermin, domestic animals (pest & vermin control).
  • Feed spills should be cleaned out.


Limiting the spread to other animal facilities (inter-herd transmission). 


a. Operational footbaths and pits: 

Available footbaths and pits for disinfection at entrance/exit of the facilities.


b. Sharing material:

Avoid sharing material with other farms/premises (i.e. syringes, tractors, etc.).


c. Surgical material disinfection:

Vets must disinfect their working material in between visits.


d. Waste disposal:

Bedding / milk / syringes disposal needs to be done according to local legislation.




Preventing human contamination 


a.  Cleansing and disinfection:

Do wash your hands routinely and wellies at least daily.


b. Gloves:

Gloves should be worn while dealing with livestock.




Preventing environmental contamination 


a. Fencing the premises:

Avoid contact with wildlife as much as possible, double fencing would also avoid nose-to-nose contact with neighbouring farms.

The above biosecurity measures may be part of your basic advice to farmers. But please, also bear in mind these concepts especially during this pandemic to keep everyone safe.

We are all One Health.

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DSaegerman, C., Dal Pozzo, F., & Humblet, M. F. (2012). Reducing hazards for humans from animals: Emerging and re-emerging zoonoses. Italian Journal of Public Health, 9(2), 13–24. pone.0000500.

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