Although the specifics of a Biosecurity Program will differ from farm to farm, the overriding concern is to keep everything as free of germs as possible and to limit contact between animals. One of the greatest threats of disease to a dairy cow or calf is from other cattle, whether through surfaces, equipment, insects or people contaminated by diseased animals. A disease outbreak in any herd can be financially devastating to the operation.  There are many items to be considered so The Bullvine has looked at what comes in, what goes around and what goes out and has put together three checklists for your consideration.

What’s Coming In?

  • Limit the number of new additions to the dairy herd.
  • As thoroughly as you check out new animals, check out the sources you buy from.
  • One of the best ways to control mycoplasma is to avoid buying cattle from known positive tested herds.
  • Pest and Animals control. Employ rodent and other pest control measures.
  • Prevent birds, rodents, pets and other animals from coming into contact with the herd.
  • Make sure all suppliers and other farm visitors follow your biosecurity measures
  • Avoid borrowing equipment and vehicles from other farms.
  • Lock the doors to the barn.
  • Post a warning sign asking visitors to keep out. Leave a telephone number to call.
  • Limit access to the dairy facilities from outside visitors.
  • Limit access to the dairy herd from outside visitors.

Sign Them In – Write them Up

  • Maintain a log book of all visitors — date, time and origin.
  • Maintain records of the movement of animals and equipment coming in, on and off the premises.
  • Strictly control contact with newly arriving cattle (human and animal traffic, feeding, manure, etc.)

Keep Them Clean

  • Provide clean coveralls and boots for all visitors.
  • Require all visitors to wear clean boots, clothing and gloves.

Test Everything

  • Obtain serum on arrival and test for risk adverse diseases.
  • Maintain banked serum from new arrivals.
  • Test every new lot of hay or load of feed.
  • Test feedstuffs for microbial content, including molds, aflatoxin and salmonella.
  • Although salmonella most often enters a dairy through contaminated feed, new/replacement animals should also be tested for salmonella.
  • All new cattle should also be tested for the presence of mycoplasma.
  • In addition, sample the bulk tank at least monthly and preferably bi-weekly for problem organisms
  • Embryo transfer recipients can be a source on infectious disease, test appropriately.
  • Test all calves from purchased cattle for persistent infection with BVDV.
  • Require hoof trimmers to sanitize their chutes, tables, knives, and other equipment.

What’s going Around?

  • Identification
    • Identify all animals with proper ear tags for traceability.
    • Establish a functional record-keeping system.
  • Isolation:
    • Use proper quarantining of returning animals (from shows, sales, other farms etc.)
    • Isolate sick animals from the rest of the herd.
    • Isolate any new animals or animals returning to the herd.
    • Separate cattle by age or production groups.
    • Use a separate enclosure for isolating animals.
    • Be aware that multiple livestock species can share and transmit diseases.
  • Sanitation:
    • Routinely clean and disinfect buildings, barns, equipment, clothing and footwear.
    • Buildings should be thoroughly cleaned of all organic debris and pressure-washed using approved disinfectants.
    • Spray all surfaces with a commercial-grade disinfectant.
    • After each calving, all bedding, cleansings and discharges should be removed and cleaning and disinfection procedures should be repeated. That includes all buckets, tools, vehicles and utensils.
    • Never use moldy or dusty bedding.
  • Vaccination:
    • Develop a strategic vaccination program with your herd veterinarian.
    • Vaccinate cattle against certain diseases.
    • Vaccinate on arrival with standard herd protocol and re-vaccinate (booster) in 3-4 weeks prior to leaving quarantine facilities.
    • It’s also vital that producers follow label directions for the vaccinations and medications they use.
    • Immediately report any signs of illness to your veterinarian or the nearest CFIA office.
  • Ventilation
    • Check buildings for good, draft-free ventilation. One way to do this is to use the smoke-bucket technique–you burn some straw in a metal bucket and observe how the smoke escapes the building.
    • Don’t overstock areas.
  • Transportation
    • Maintain records of the movement of animals leaving the farm.
    • Maintain records of the movement of equipment leaving the farm.
  • Implementation
    • Monitor herd health daily.
    • Employ veterinary services to help implement herd health programs.
    • Train all staff in the application of your biosecurity program.
    • Regularly monitor the effectiveness of the program.
    • Be aware of any diseases in your area and just your Biosecurity Program to meet specific needs, as required.

What’s going Out?

  • The goal is to prevent mixing of age groups.
  • Promptly dispose of dead animals. Implement a manure management program.
  • Calving should occur in a designated building away from the rest of the herd.
  • Utilize individual calf hutches for newborn calves. Thoroughly disinfect between uses.
  • Designate a cleaning area for vehicles and equipment.
  •  Isolate sick and diseased cattle with unusual clinical signs or cattle that do not respond to customary treatments.
  •  Have a veterinarian necropsy (autopsy) any animal that dies from undetermined causes and dispose of dead animals promptly.


  • If the target organism(s) is detected, the options for maintaining biosecurity will depend on the number of animals that are infected. If only a few cows are infected, these can be removed from the herd.


  • Implement strict quarantine procedures.
  • When selling cull cows and bull calves, identify a location outside of the barn for cattle buyers to pick up these animals without entering the barn.

Traffic control

  • Don’t share (on feet or clothing or tools or equipment)  pathogens from your farm with others
  • Exhibiting cattle at fairs presents a risk of disease transmission (a lower risk than others).
  • Food safety is also a vital part of biosecurity, Salmonella-contaminated milk or other products that may leave the farm are a still a very real threat to food safety.


  • Reduce manure contamination of water sources, bunks, feeds and feeding equipment.
  • Keep cattle out of mud, streams and farm ponds.  Water and mud are havens for coliform bacteria and organisms like Pseudomonas aeruginosa that can cause mastitis.
  • Keeping cattle out of streams not only protects animals on the farm, it also reduces the possibility of contaminating animals downstream—or spreading organisms to other animals such as fish.
  • Controlling manure runoff and following proper waste management guidelines makes for healthier soils and animals.


A disease outbreak in any herd can be financially devastating to the operation. Take the time to make sure you know what is coming in, going around and going out. Protect your farm.  Protect your future.