2013-10-09  facebook twitter rss

Buying In Cattle Without Buying In Disease

Good biosecurity is a vital component of a good herd health plan and is fundamental to optimising herd health. Buying in livestock puts that biosecurity at risk and is the most likely way of introducing a new disease onto the farm.

To minimise the risk of buying in disease, source stock from as few farms as possible and ask questions about their health status before purchase. Consult a vet to assist in risk assessment and formulate a strategy to minimise the identified risks.


photo © Jennifer Mackenzie

All stock brought onto the farm should be quarantined for at least three weeks on arrival. Only when both this minimum isolation period and any requisite tests have been completed, with results indicating freedom from infection, should new stock enter the main herd.

During quarantine, it’s important to regularly observe cattle for any signs of infectious disease, such as pneumonia, scour, skin irritations and lameness. Ensure there is no direct contact between any purchased cattle, or their faeces or urine, and the main herd during this time. Ideally, house them in a separate building or separate field, so they are not in the same airspace. When this is not possible, a distance of at least three metres between the purchased stock and existing herd is recommended.

When stock arrive on the farm, conduct tests, vaccinations and treatments, as agreed with your vet. These would depend on the category of stock being purchased. For young cattle, a key concern may be viral pneumonia and so treatments may include pneumonia vaccination. Consideration should also be given to parasites, such as fluke, worms and mange, depending on the grazing history and age of animals.

For breeding animals, it is important to consider infectious diseases, such as Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD), Johne’s disease, Leptospirosis and Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR), in relation to the farm’s current status. Introducing one of these into a currently disease-free herd can have serious and long-term financial consequences. The farm’s veterinary surgeon is best placed to give advice on whether or not testing, or vaccination, or both, are required for these diseases, depending on the risks and status of the herd, as they can be complex to control.

It is also necessary to wait until all animals in the isolation facility have passed the required health tests or vaccination periods before dung is removed. The main herd should also be prevented from accessing the manure of quarantine animals for at least six months and it should not be spread for two months or, where there is concern of Johne’s disease, for 12 months. Therefore, separate storage and spreading may need to be considered.

When quarantine cattle are kept in a paddock, rather than housed, a two-month gap before using the quarantine paddocks for grazing other cattle is advised. However, when cattle are known to be infected with Johne’s disease, a much longer gap is recommended.

EBLEX have produced two checklists to help cattle producers think about disease risk when purchasing cattle and discussing disease control with their veterinary surgeons. Buyers checklists for breeding cattle and for calves and store cattle are available from www.eblex.org.uk


  Related Links
link Auctioneers Give Backing to Ireland’s BVD Eradication Scheme
link Reduce Pneumonia Risk At Weaning
link National Beef Association Welcomes New Chairman
link Beef Cattle

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