With growing concern over emerging disease issues, biosecurity is more important than ever for cattle producers. The Bovine Alliance on Management and Nutrition offers some guidelines for implementing a biosecurity program on your operation.

Tips for designing a biosecurity program:

1. Develop a written risk assessment of your operation, facility and management practices. With the help of your veterinarian, identify the level of any infectious diseases already existing on your operation.

2. Identify and prioritize in writing those diseases targeted for control through your biosecurity program.

3. Assess the diseases not present on your operation and prioritize those you wish to continue to exclude. Walk through your facilities with your veterinarian to determine the risk level for disease transmission or movement and write down a prioritized list of biosecurity objectives.

4. Work with your veterinarian to develop a written biosecurity plan that meets your needs. Work with all personnel and advisors for your operation to implement the plan. Review and update this written plan on an annual basis.

Options for limiting entry, movement or effects of infectious diseases onto an operation:

Limiting animal movement and contact is an obvious way to reduce the introduction of new agents or their spread on the farm. In fact, many if not most, biosecurity risks are from animals purchased off the farm or ranch. The best approach to disease control is to maintain a completely closed herd. However, this is rarely practical, with most herds requiring periodic introduction of new genetics. Each decision to introduce cattle should be made knowing this is an opportunity for pathogens to gain entry. Risk management techniques include:

1. Buying semen and embryos from reputable sources that can clearly document that their infectious disease control protocols limit the introduction of new disease.

2. Before introduction to the herd test all animals for diseases you are trying to keep off your operation or, buy replacements certified to be free from those diseases. Your approach to testing depends on the nature of the disease, the accuracy of the diagnostic tests and the cooperation of the seller. For most diseases, it is of little benefit to control spread of the disease on the operation if the risk of introducing new cases from outside the operation is not controlled. Movement of pathogens among groups of animals is similar to the introduction of pathogens from outside the farm. Ideally, each production class (calves, growing heifers, bred heifers, lactating cows, dry cows, etc.) should be thought of as individual management units. Direct or indirect contact among groups should be minimized or timed to have the least risk of clinical disease.