Saleyard biosecurity: Key to livestock health

“Accountability factors into each element of a farming operation,” says African Farming presenter Tony Ndoro. The buying and selling of animals is the lifeblood of a commercial livestock operation, and at the heart of this is the saleyard.

Vleissentraal’s Johann Vosser says the auction house has a double responsibility – to their buyers and to their sellers. Auction houses that run saleyards have their reputation to consider, and holding onto a good name in business is a strong accountability driver.

Biosecurity is a critical aspect of maintaining disease-free herds, flocks and environments and of keeping local and export markets open and functioning. “Biosecurity is a responsibility that includes farmers and auction houses, but it must start on the farm,” says Vosser. He points out that the farmer has a responsibility to his neighbours and to the livestock farming community, all of whom depend on being disease-free to stay in business.

Agribusinesses like Vleissentraal make a significant contribution in providing quality livestock facilities, and decent biosecurity is part of the package. At the saleyard, biosecurity officials monitor animals for signs and symptoms of disease and check that livestock is correctly permitted for transport.

Saleyards are also responsible for setting up and maintaining good hygiene and animal welfare practices. Stress should be kept to a minimum in the ring and in the pens, and handlers are responsible for handling the animals in a calm and easy manner. Animals must have access to clean water in the saleyard pens. 

Animal movement is an opportunity for pathogens to expand their territories. Some of these pathogens cause deadly diseases that can, and do, destroy farming businesses. Even diseases that are not necessarily killers, like foot-and-mouth disease, have shocking financial consequences for the sector. 

“We are responsible to help and assure our buyers – whether they are stud breeders, commercial farmers, feedlots or abattoirs – that the animals they have bought are disease-free,” says Vosser.

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