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Biosecurity for the Sheep Flock
Factsheet name: Biosecurity for the Sheep Flock
Farm level biosecurity is a series of management practices designed to minimise, prevent or control:
- The introduction of infectious pathogens onto a farm EXCLUSION
- Spread within a farm production operation MANAGEMENT
- Export of these pathogens beyond the farm which may have an adverse effect on the economy, the environment and human health à CONTAINMENT
Drivers of biosecurity:
- New and emerging diseases.
- Increased focus on prevention rather than treatment.
- Changing epidemiology of disease.
- Increased focus on zoonotic diseases.
- Globalisation and the mass movement of people and goods.
- Increased focus on traceability.
- New production practices in agriculture.
What is biosecurity?
Successful flock management not only requires the control of biosecurity and biocontainment risks, but also requires a robust surveillance programme to monitor disease, establish the disease status of the herd and detect any incursion or spread early in the disease process. What a flock achieves in terms of biosecurity will depend on the aspirations of the farmer.
|Diseases to consider in all flocks||Diseases to consider in breeding flocks|
|Liver fluke||Caseous lymphadenitis|
|Footrot and CODD||Enzootic abortions of ewes|
|Anthelmintic resistant worms||Maedi visna|
|Sheep scab and lice||Scrapie|
|Ovine pukomary adenocarcinoma|
General principles of biosecurity in the sheep flock:
- Define and monitor the flock’s health status
- Buy in the minimum number of animals from the minimum number of sources, preferably none, or source from an accredited source if possible
- Do not hire rams and take extra care when hiring equipment
- Also avoid sharing medicines and wormers with other farms, disinfect all equipment if it can’t be avoided
- Provide a quarantine area where there is no contact with other stock
- There is extensive guidance on the treatments that quarantines sheep should receive in quarantine, speak to your vet and adapt it to your flock’s disease status
- Isolate incoming or returning stock for 28 days and observe for signs of disease
- Avoid all contact with stock of infected or unknown disease status
- At a minimum prevent nose-nose contact
- 2 metre boundaries/ use of electric tape at areas where contact is a risk
- Avoid unnecessary visitors to the farm being in areas used by sheep
- Provide footbaths, handwashing facilities and vehicle disinfection areas on farm
- This includes vets, contractors, farm workers and delivery vehicles
- Consider having specific farm clothing and boots for visitors
- Control vermin, dogs and cats and prioritise preventing access to feed
- Consider natural water sources as a possible route of entry for infections
Production: Dairy / Meat
Animal Category: Adult / Lamb / Replacement
Source of information : Heather Stevenson presentation on biosecurity in sheep flocks (personal communication). Sheep flock health security (2007). Hosie, B., Clark, S. In Practice 29:246-257.