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Immunology - Public Health and Epidemiology - Science Policy


Biosecurity on Cattle Farms: A Study in North-West England
Published: Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Author: Marnie L. Brennan et al.

by Marnie L. Brennan, Robert M. Christley

Background

Few studies have considered in detail the range of biosecurity practices undertaken on cattle farms, particularly within the UK. In this study, 56 cattle farmers in a 100 km2 area of north-west England were questioned regarding their on-farm biosecurity practices, including those relating to animal movements, equipment sharing and companies and contractors visiting the farms.

Methodology/Principal Findings

There was great variation between farms in terms of the type of, and extent to which, biosecurity was carried out. For example, the majority of farmers did not isolate stock bought onto the farm, but a small proportion always isolated stock. Many farmers administered treatments post-movement, primarily vaccinations and anthelmintics, but very few farms reported carrying out any health checks after moving animals on. In addition, there appeared to be much variation in the amount of biosecurity carried out by the different companies and contractors visiting the farms. Deadstock collectors and contracted animal waste spreaders, although likely to have a high potential for contact with infectious agents, were reported to infrequently disinfect themselves and their vehicles.

Conclusions/Significance

These findings suggest that although certain biosecurity practices are undertaken, many are carried out infrequently or not at all. This may be due to many factors, including cost (in time and money), lack of proven efficacies of practices and lack of relevant education of veterinary surgeons, producers and other herd health specialists. Further research exploring the reasons for the lack of uptake is imperative if preventive medicine is to be utilised fully by the farming industry.

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