Monday, February 7, 2011

Can we visit your farm? Biosecurity

Ah, the farm. A glorious expanse of space. Fields of lush green grasses, and wildflowers dotted with cows serenely grazing. A peaceful and tranquil place to lie on a summer day and listen to the sounds of insects hard at work.

It's hard sometimes to remember what lurks below the surface. We have only recently begun to think about biosecurity, and the steps we must take as new food produces to ensure the safety of the food we produce, and ensure the health and wellness of our livestock.

Biosecurity at the farm level can be defined as the day to day practices that prevent the movement of disease-causing agents onto and off of the farm. We have to look at all aspects of "farm management", such as disease control and prevention (e.g. closed herd, vaccinations), nutrient management and visitor control. Tracing and tracking the movement of livestock is recognised as the most important biosecurity measure for most diseases, but many important hazards can be carried on contaminated clothing, boots, equipment and vehicles. This means that the single most important way we can reduce biosecurity risks is to limit the flow of visitors, particularly to fields/barns/and barnyards where animals are housed.

Issues such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, foot and mouth disease, avian influenza and Newcastle disease are very real, and can be transferred from farm to farm on shoes and clothing.  All visitors to our farm need to understand the possible risk they present when entering a farm, and what precautions need to be taken when visiting. Visitors can unknowingly bring harmful agents onto a farm via contaminated clothing and footwear, equipment and vehicles. 

So what are we doing?
  • We have implemented a "no visitor" area in our barnyard, signage will advise visitors that they are entering a biosecure area.
  • All visitors must "Check in" at the house and we have begun to keep a record of farm visitors, including contact information.
  • Visitors must advise us if they have visited another farm within the last 7 days.
  • If visitors have been to another farm, we provide them with footwear to wear on our farm if they have to go down to the barnyard area.
  • We limit contact with our livestock.
  • We wear "off farm boots and clothing" and remove it when we enter the farm. It is stored in an outbuilding away from the barns.
  • Visitors must wash their hands before and after contact with our livestock.
We get many requests to have "parties" on the farm, but friends and family now understand that in order to be a part of their food chain, we need to ensure the safety of their food.  In the end, it means being able to offer them farm fresh naturally raised beef, pork and chicken - without the risk of disease.

No comments:

Post a Comment