Herd Health

Recommendations for Sheep Producers

from Vermont Department of Agriculture and
University of Vermont Extension

Keep Your Herd Healthy Don’t Pack A Pest!

The recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in the United Kingdom and Europe has raised concern about the possibility of the disease entering the United States. Livestock producers and veterinarians are eager to know what they can do to protect herds from the disease. Practices used to keep herds free of Foot and Mouth Disease are actually no different from routine biosecurity practices that should be implemented on every farm to prevent the introduction of any disease. Foot and Mouth Disease should be considered a wake-up call to animal agriculture in Vermont. Biosecurity measures must be enhanced to prevent the spread of this and other diseases.

I. Control movement of vehicles, equipment and visitors on the farm equipment and visitors on the farm

  • Define (in writing) who is authorized to be on the farm. Specify areas each person is authorized to visit. Give the document to each employee and frequent visitor.
  • Post signs instructing visitors where to go, where not to go, and person(s) to contact for instructions or permission.
  • Establish a common point of entrance and exit to or from the farm and facilities.
  • Designate an area for vehicles to park before allowing them to advance to other parts of the farm.
  • Inspect vehicles and equipment for cleanliness and sanitation, including tires and under carriage, and prohibit entrance of vehicles and equipment that are not in satisfactory sanitary condition (free from visible signs of manure, other animal secretions, and bedding materials).
  • As much as possible, keep vehicles such as milk, feed and livestock trucks from driving through areas where animals are housed and feed is kept.
  • Have a power sprayer located in an isolated area to clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment before entering the farm.
  • Maintain a supply of effective disinfectant for routine cleaning and sanitizing of vehicles and equipment.
  • Ask visitors to provide information about recent travel and animal contacts.
    1. Have they recently visited other farms? Where and how long ago? If so, either footwear should be sanitized or disposable foot-covers worn before allowing them on the premises.
    2. Visitors from foreign countries should not have had contact with a farm, livestock or other livestock facilities within 5 days of their arrival.
    3. Visitors from foreign countries should have showered, had their clothing washed and their footwear cleaned and disinfected.
    4. Any equipment or materials that they have brought with them should be similarly disinfected, left behind or safely stowed away.
    5. Possession of any foreign agricultural products, either plant or animal, is prohibited and should not be allowed on your farm. Incidents should be reported to agriculture officials 802-828-2430.
  • Unless absolutely necessary, do not allow visitors to have direct contact with livestock or livestock handling or feeding areas. Do not allow visitors to walk or drive through feed alleys, mangers, feed storage areas, or cattle pens.
  • Provide disinfectant boot wash or disposable boots and coveralls for visitors at entrances or other designated sites.
  • Plan traffic patterns for your visitors. If you are touring the whole farm, move from areas of least manure contamination and lowest disease exposure to areas of increasing exposure and contamination risk
    1. visit feed storage areas before you enter cattle housing areas
    2. visit calf housing areas before replacement heifer housing, and visit heifer barns before adult cattle facilities
    3. visit fresh cow pens before entering later lactation pens
    4. avoid traffic in sick cow or hospital pens or visit these areas last
    5. avoid traffic in an animal quarantine or isolation areas

II. Use Care When Adding Animals to Your Herd

  • Know the source and health status of animals introduced to your herd. Also know the health status of the herd of origin.
  • Work closely with your veterinarian to establish a health-screening program to assure that diseased animals are not added to your herd.
  • New and returning animals should be isolated and observed for at least two weeks, before being introduced to the herd.
  • Clean and disinfect any equipment that may have accompanied animals entering the farm.
  • Walk new and returning animals through a disinfectant footbath when unloading.
  • Know the source of purchased feed and the health status of the herd on the farm of origin.

III. Think About Your Own Movement

  • After visiting other farms or livestock facilities, change your clothes or coveralls and clean and disinfect your footwear before entering your own farm.
  • Wear rubber or disposable boots when you are visiting other livestock facilities. Remove and discard (disposables) or clean and disinfected before returning to your farm.
  • After handling livestock on other farms, shower and change clothes before handling livestock on your farm.
  • If you are traveling overseas, avoid contact with farms, livestock, or other livestock facilities within 5 days of your return. If necessary, plan any visits to these premises in the early part of your trip. Also pack a separate clean set of cloths and shoes to wear for your return trip.
  • Do not import any agricultural products of either plant or animal origin. These must be reported to U.S. Customs officials when you arrive.

IV. Recommended Disinfectants

Regardless of the disinfectant used, the most import aspect of disinfection is complete removal of all soil, manure or other organic material from surfaces! The only commercial disinfectant specifically recommended for FMD virus is Virkon S, distributed by Farnam Livestock Products 888-241-9546 or www.farnam.com. Vinegar is recommended as an inexpensive and readily available disinfectant for light disinfection of footwear, cameras, bags, or other materials and objects. Household bleach diluted 3 parts to 2 parts water can also be used as a disinfectant for FMD virus.