The important role biosecurity plays in protecting a herd

Dr Thapelo Makae, veterinarian at Elanco, highlighted the importance of biosecurity during a studio interview with Angie Khumalo in episode five of African Farming.

Khumalo visited the successful vegetable farmers Jimmy Botha and his daughters, Lerato and Luzzel, on their farm west of Johannesburg.

But during the studio interview Dr Makae also talked about new farmers wanting to have livestock on their land. He said producing protein plays an important role in the country’s food security. He further highlighted the importance of biosecurity when farming with livestock.

“If an emerging farmer wants to venture into livestock farming, we have to talk about the importance of biosecurity.”

Biosecurity involves a farmer’s strategy to prevent new diseases from entering and spreading on his farm by applying various management practices.

“It is the farmer’s duty to make sure that the diseases his livestock might have, are controlled and managed properly within the borders of his farm,” Dr Makae said.

He said one of the ways emerging farmers grow their herds is by buying animals at auctions or from other farmers.

“When doing so, you must make sure that the animals you want to buy are vaccinated, and also check their health status.”

He advised farmers to not introduce new animals to their herds immediately, but to rather quarantine them for at least two weeks, monitoring them for any signs or symptoms of diseases. The same principle applies to livestock leaving and returning to and from shows.

A good biosecurity strategy should include various aspects of farm management, such as: production input; output distribution; stray animals; people; vehicles; equipment; and production practices. A farmer should be aware that almost everything that is transported to the farm or production unit might pose a biosecurity risk.

To prevent or minimise these risks, the best defence would be to implement good biosecurity practises at farm level. This is where the training of herdsman plays an important role. Workers and visitors should follow simple yet quick measures that can be easily implemented and built into the daily practices of the farm.

“It is important to especially educate those who look after animals, about your biosecurity strategies and management plan on the farm, so that they are updated on the protocols that must be followed,” said Dr Makae.

Some of these practices should include:
• Checking the fences regularly to ensure they are in a good condition.
• Quarantine vulnerable animals or animals with an unknown health status from the herd.
• Limit unnecessary access of people and vehicles on the farm.
• Try to have limited access points to the farm.
• Mark specific areas on the farm so that visitors know where they are allowed to go and limit their exposure to the livestock.

There are so much more a farmer can do, so for more information, e-mail Dr Makae at

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