Bio-security management practices prevent the spread of disease by minimising the movement of biologic organisms and their vectors (viruses, bacteria, rodents, flies) onto and within your operation through animals, vehicles, visitors, personnel, pests and other means.
Observing strict bio-security practices minimises the introduction and spread of diseases onto farms, and reduces the risk of disease being carried between farms.
Bio-security controls transmission of disease-causing agents between animals, from animals to feed and from animals to equipment that may directly or indirectly come into contact with affected animals.
A vehicle wheelbath or a footbath is a simple bio-security measure that helps prevent the potential spread of disease.
Organisms have the potential to survive for several days or weeks in the dirt stuck to wheels of vehicles or the bottom of shoes.
Vehicle wheelbaths or footbaths can eliminate these organisms.
Depending on the amount of traffic on your farm, it may be necessary to have more than one footbath.
It is important to provide cleaning materials such as brushes at every footbath and ensure that they are not shared between separate footbaths. Footbaths should be changed and cleaned periodically.
How often you clean your footbath depends on how much foot traffic you have on your farm.
There are several recommended disinfectants for use in footbaths. The empty container and mat should be scrubbed with a brush and rinsed thoroughly.
Next, add fresh disinfectant and place the mat back into the container.
Do not forget to post guidelines near footbaths instructing users how to correctly wash footwear.
Dealing with bullying
It should be noted that separating animals based on age groups prevents bullying by the dominant animals of subordinate ones.
This brings about improvement in feeding and milk production; than when housed in mixed groups.
Research has showed a 10-15% improvement in feeding and milk yields when first-calf heifers were grouped separately from older cows and a nearly 20% increase in resting activity when heifers were housed separately.
Stall size should be moderate. With too small stalls, there is increased animal injuries and low milk production, if the stalls are too large, it results into dirty stalls and poor hygiene.