How to Prevent Livestock Disease

As a livestock farmer you have a duty and obligation to manage your farm in a way that is effective against the spread of disease. The spread of disease from animal to animal, between humans and animals, or between animals and humans, can all have devastating consequences. There are some diseases, which should lead to an immediate notification to the relevant governmental bodies and organisations and others that can be effectively managed on site through careful disinfection and cleaning procedures, isolation and treatment of animals and other methods.

If you are a farmer and worry that a disease outbreak on your farm is one that you should notify the relevant department of, it is important that you immediately inform your Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) Office.

Livestock disease prevention works on two levels, from a national level through the AHVLA and on individual farms through effective biosecurity measures. Let’s take a look at the two in turn.

Controlling animal disease is a primary focus of the AHVLA, which was formed in 2011. Its key role is to safeguard public and animal health and welfare, to protect the economy and improve levels of food security through research, surveillance and thorough inspection. As well as the surveillance and inspection at farms, markets and other livestock premises throughout the UK, the AHVLA also have laboratory responsibilities to look for exotic and zoonotic diseases. The processes on the whole ensure that AHVLA has the capabilities to response to animal disease emergencies in a fast and effective manner.

At a nationwide level the Animal Health Act 1981 is also a vital aspect of livestock disease prevention. It regulates the prevention, control and eradication of all animal diseases and has powers of entry in order for veterinary inspectors to inspect onsite, as well as powers to seize and slaughter infected animals where warranted, to dispose of infected carcases, cleanse and move animals, personnel and vehicles in an effective manner, and empower local authorities to provide such measures.

Animal disease and illness can spread easily and quickly if not countered immediately. It can occur through movement of animals, movement of people and/or machinery between different farms, from visitors to a farm, new animals being introduced to a herd, shared (and contaminated farm equipment), diseases carried on site through rodents, insects or wild birds, or through contaminated water supplies (both private and public).

With this in mind it is vital that a livestock farm has a thorough biosecurity process in place. This will help to prevent the spread of farmed and notifiable diseases, protect animals, agricultural workers, visitors, and the wider public in the worst circumstances.

Biosecurity measures on a livestock farm should include management movement of all animals, personnel, visitors and equipment, effective feeding management and transit protocols, as well as thorough disinfectant and cleaning processes. Using the right type of disinfectants and detergents will go a long way to building and securing biosecurity measures that keeps animals clean and healthy, and ensures that if there is illness in a single animal or person, that isolation and treatment can be successful without the spread of disease to other parts of the livestock.

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