Biosecurity actions keep cattle diseases from spreading

Biosecurity is a hot topic on the farm and across the nation. Everyone wants to ensure high-quality, safe food products are available to consumers, but another aspect of biosecurity for beef producers is maintaining herd health.

Biosecurity incorporates those management practices aimed at keeping new diseases off the farm and keeping diseases from spreading from group to group on the farm. According to agricultural experts biosecurity is the cheapest and most effective method of disease control, since vaccinations cannot eliminate disease and treatment can only reduce losses.

"Cattle disease is most frequently spread by contact between cattle, so limiting this contact is the most important part of biosecurity," said Clyde Lane, University of Tennessee Extension beef specialist and co-author of UT Extension publication SP691, Biosecurity for the Beef Herd. Other co-authors of the publication include Extension veterinarian Dr. Fred Hopkins, Dr. Matt Wellborn, UT College of Veterinary Medicine, and Grant Palmer, UT Extension Director for Roane County.

"Newly arriving cattle should be isolated from other cattle for a minimum of 30 days," Lane said.

Most cattle diseases are spread by cattle blood, saliva, manure, urine or exhaled air. Special attention must be paid to reducing contact from animal-to-animal or animal-to-object-to-animal.

The publication recommends a combination of animal isolation and control of movement onto and around the farm, as well as cleaning and disinfection.

"Even small management changes directed towards disease control can yield a healthier beef herd," said Lane.

For a copy of UT Extension publication SP691, Biosecurity for the Beef Herd, contact your local UT Extension office or visit the UT Extension publications Web site:

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