One of the reasons rare breeds of livestock and poultry are so loved by their keepers is because they are so naturally hardy. This hardiness comes from practical selection within the environment of the small farm, where expense decisions have historically been carefully weighed. Judicious practices such as culling unthrifty individuals and families, when practiced over many generations, leave most Conservation Priority List breeds with very hardy immune systems. This hardiness, however, does not make these breeds immune to all potential health threats.
In planning to maintain the health and hardiness of rare breeds, there are a number of tools available: careful and well-thought-out breeding strategies, selective culling, appropriate nutrition plans, modern medicine, passive transfer of antibodies, and reducing potential exposure to disease. All of these and more represent the scope of biosecurity. The last point, reducing potential exposure to disease, is particularly important during times of disease threat and is an element easily controlled by you, the steward, for very little expense.
The threat of contagious disease can be reduced or prevented by reducing the possibility of contact between the disease and the animal. This is done by addressing the many ways disease could be introduced. Controlling disease transmission vectors is particularly important when a highly infectious disease is circulating. Given that today, distance is much less a limiting factor, all livestock keepers should implement such individual biosecurity protocols that will work well for their own situation.
A Contagious Disease Biosecurity Plan is useful in preventing disease, and in validating and documenting your commitment to disease prevention. During times of disease outbreak, having a Contagious Disease Biosecurity Plan and evidence of its implementation may be the difference between retention and pre-emptive destruction of your stock due to disease eradication efforts..
Protocols - Sample Plan (.pdf)
The Livestock Conservancy has compiled a list of biosecurity protocols that can be used to tailor a Contagious Disease Biosecurity Plan for your individual farm. The sample plan can be adopted as is, or can be reviewed as a basis in formulating a custom plan. This Plan outlines protocols to implement during routine or crisis situations – you simply check off those protocols that will work on your farm. Choosing protocols can be easy, but it is important that you can and do follow all of those protocols you select. So, use the Plan as an outline to help you understand the principles of biosecurity and to help you formulate procedures that fit the particular needs of your farm. What you do today will protect you and your livestock well into the future.