Thirteen tips for good biosecurity at a livestock company
Being forced to temporarily close your company due to avian flu or swine fever: it’s a situation that every farmer wants to avoid. If an epidemic breaks out in a certain region, temporary measures are imposed to prevent further spreading. However, for some farmers, it will already be too late. For them, it will take up to a year before they are fully operational again.
Many livestock farmers are choosing to proactively search for solutions instead of waiting for disaster to strike. There is a clear trend in the livestock sector towards a structural incorporation of biosecurity measures into everyday operations. Doing this will often provide more benefits than just the prevention of disease. Read about the solutions for biosecurity in this article. Discover the many benefits.
Definition of biosecurity
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) biosecurity is “a set of preventive measures designed to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases in crops and livestock.” The aim can be astronomical: preventing the need for a cull. However, during epidemic-free periods, sound biosecurity can also result in fewer sick animals and fewer losses. In addition, you can also benefit from lower vaccination costs and improved growth, since disease stunts growth. Ultimately, biosecurity leads to better feed conversion. Therefore, investing in biosecurity can certainly save you money.
The measures you can take to improve your biosecurity are numerous. We’ve split them into two categories. First, we’ll explore the measures you can take to prevent diseases from entering your company site. Second, we’ll list the measures that are focused on preventing diseases from spreading on your site.
Potential adjustments to your infrastructure and fleet
If you want to ensure the biosecurity of everything that enters your company from the outside, it starts with your infrastructure. You can erect a fence and move your feed bins to the street side of your company (tip 1). Trucks with feed deliveries can then fill the bins from outside the fence. By limiting the access of trucks to your site, you eliminate an important source of contamination. Farmers are increasingly deciding to reserve part of their fleet for “internal transport” within the confines of the site (tip 2). They drive only on the company’s “clean”, uncontaminated roads. The other part of the fleet is used for transportation outside of the company.
Procedure for new animals
The way you introduce new animals to the company can also be optimized with standard procedures. Create a loading and unloading zone at the edge of the site. Trucks and drivers transporting animals to and from the company should not enter the site (tip 3). New animals can be held in quarantine until you can be sure they are healthy (tip 4). Some livestock companies opt not to introduce any new groups while their existing groups are still growing (tip 5). They always start with a large group of new animals, and only introduce a new group of animals once the existing animals are fully grown and have left the site.
Protocol for visitors
Increasing numbers of farmers are installing shower rooms for visitors (tip 6). Visitors must also adhere to a pre-agreed protocol (tip 7). For example, visitors may be asked to avoid contact with the species of animal kept in the houses two days prior to a site visit.
You’re already on the right track with your biosecurity if you have a combination of measures in place to prevent diseases entering your company from outside. However, it’s also important to have internal structures and guidelines in place.
Handling your day-to-day operations
As a pig farmer, you could opt to carry out your daily tasks in a logical order (tip 8). For example, you could start your day with the piglets and then move on to the large meat pigs. This is a logical way to work, because smaller animals are more susceptible to diseases. If bacteria is present in the houses with the meat pigs, it will not be transfered to the smaller piglets.
Many farmers also have different sets of clothing and boots for each house (tip 9). You should select a different color for each house, so there will be no confusion.
Naturally, there must also be a clear procedure for dealing with dead livestock (tip 10). You should also think about how to prevent rodents and insects from contributing to the spread of viruses.
Moving animals within your company
By creating structure in your everyday work, you are already going a long way to improving the biosecurity at your company. Yet, you should also consider how to move animals within the company.
Do you have an isolation zone (tip 11)? Immediately move any sick animals to this area and only move them back into the house once they have fully recovered. Carefully consider your vaccination schedule (tip 12). Finally, do not mix your animal groups (tip 13). If you do, there is a good chance you will be placing animals with two different levels of resistance together. It’s a risk you should avoid taking.
A healthy company now and in the future
If you have applied a combination of external and internal measures, you’re well on the way to becoming a company with a good approach to the biosecurity problems that can hinder the growth of the modern, intensive livestock industry. It will require investments in time, planning, structure and resources. However, you can be sure that your livestock and your company will remain healthy, both now and in the future.
Thirteen tips for good biosecurity at a livestock company
- Install a fence and move your feed bins to the street side. Feed deliverers can fill feed bins from outside the fence.
- If possible, divide your fleet into an internal and external division
- Create a loading and unloading zone at the edge of the site
- Keep new animals in quarantine for a certain period
- Do not introduce new groups to existing groups
- Install shower rooms for visitors
- Create a protocol for your visitors
- Carry out your daily tasks in a logical order
- Use a color code per house for overalls and boots
- Consider your approach to handling dead animals and prevent rodents and insects from coming into contact with your animals
- Use an isolation zone
- Organize and schedule vaccination rounds
- Do not mix your animal groups
Three solutions for better biosecurity
How a Roxell overhead system can benefit you
Roxell has three solutions that can significantly improve your biosecurity. They handle the feed transport at the site and allow deliveries of feed to be made outside the walls of the company. All transport is carried out overhead. We’ll explain how the three overhead systems work.
The combination of Roxell products you need to build the overhead system:
- Storage bin
- Flex-Auger™ of Discaflex™ feed transport tubes
- day bin
- weighing system
- controller – iQon feed computer for poultry or Multifast™ batch feeding system for pigs
The simplest solution is to connect the storage bins to one or several day bins at the house. The day bin has a maximum sensor that indicates when the reservoir is full.
Feed constitutes a large expense for livestock companies. It can total over 70% of the operational costs. Recording and monitoring your feed consumption is an important first step towards improving the management of your feed costs. For this reason, you could also opt for the second solution.
Roxell has a solution for poultry farms that allows a batch weigher to be placed in between your storage bins and day bins. With a batch weigher, you have a feed process that provides much more accurate feeding. The device weighs and records the feed, and sends the batch to a specific day bin. The weighing system measures the feed precisely. You won’t feed any less or more than required. Roxell has both mechanical and electronic batch weighers. In addition, Roxell offers you the ability to weigh a day bin electronically. Perfectly weighed feed portions will significantly improve your ability to monitor the costs. You’ll be taking the first step towards creating a well-thought-out feed strategy.
The third solution is for pig farms. It allows you to take an even bigger step towards feed optimization. Rather than using a batch weigher, you use the Multifast™ batch feeding system, which allows you to feed in phases. If you feed your animals three different types of feed during their entire stay at your site, you can ensure a gradual transition from one feed to another.
Young animals are usually fed very concentrated feed mixes. These are often more expensive than the second and third types of feed that you will feed later on. If you use a batch weigher, you can provide growth feed “A” for the first month (diagram 1). With a feeding system that feeds in phases, you can instead provide the concentrated feed in week 1 only. In the second week, you can already start mixing in growth feed “B”. This means, you will need less of the pricey growth feed “A” (see diagram 2).
With the Multifast™ batch feeding system you can feed with greater precision, which also benefits the environment. It results in less manure, since you tailor your feed to the nutritional needs of the animals. This is advantageous to both your company and its environment.
Mixing feed yourself with Multifast
Since you can mix your own feed with Multifast, you can decide which feed components to use. You can use raw materials that you produce yourself and supplement them with pre-mixed feed to create the right composition. By mixing and creating the composition yourself, you have control over your feed results and can save on feed costs at your company.
With Multifast, your feed costs will dramatically decrease but your animals will receive exactly what they need. It is precision feeding, without having to make any compromises. It won’t require any extra manual work on your part, yet it will make a huge contribution to the improvement of your biosecurity.