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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
  Johnes disease
  Ovine pukomary adenocarcinoma
  Border disease


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

    Topic: management

    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.







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