4-H members, volunteers and staff should have an understanding of basic biosecurity procedures to help limit and stop the spread of animal diseases. Following these simple and effective steps in this article will help protect your animals and other farms. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development provided the following tips for practicing biosecurity, regardless of your farm’s size and scope.

Keep your distance

It’s important to restrict animal access to people, wildlife and other domestic animals that could potentially be carrying disease. In addition, any time new animals are added to a farm there should always be a period of time in which they are separated from other animals. This ensures they are healthy before introducing them to the established animals.

Keep it clean

Washing your hands, clothes and footwear thoroughly before and after working with animals and regularly cleaning and disinfecting your equipment are essential to preventing disease on any farm. Check out Michigan State University Extension’s video on how to properly wash your barn equipment.

Don’t bring in disease

It’s important to think twice before sharing equipment or supplies with neighbors. If you decide to share equipment with others, always clean and disinfect equipment before and after sharing. It’s also important to disinfect boots, vehicles and other items after returning from another farm.

Recognize a sick animal

Early detection of unhealthy animals can help prevent the spread of the disease among your animals and in your community. It is always wise to consult with your local licensed veterinarian.

Separate newly acquired animals and animals that have been taken off the farm

It is important to separate animals that are new to your farm or that have been off the farm from animals that were already there. New or traveling animals may bring new diseases onto your farm. To prevent the spread of disease to your entire herd or flock, simply separate new and traveling animals from the rest. Make sure to take care of animals that have always been on the farm first to help stop the spread of disease.

 

These easy-to-follow, everyday practices will help reduce the spread of pathogens among our animal communities and help keep your 4-H project safe from disease.