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Stay vigilant against HPAI

Stay vigilant against HPAI

By Andi Anderson

Announcements of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) should not cause alarm among cattle farmers but should prompt them to review their biosecurity measures.

Iowa State University extension beef specialist Denise Schwab emphasizes the importance of daily biosecurity practices to prevent disease spread.

"Basic biosecurity practices are essential daily steps for the prevention of all diseases, and cattlemen should always be alert to the potential of disease spread," Schwab said.

Diseases can spread through various means, including aerosol, direct animal-to-animal contact, contaminated feed or water, reproduction, insect vectors, and contaminated vehicles or equipment. Implementing biosecurity practices reduces the risk of disease.

Direct animal-to-animal contact poses the most significant risk. To minimize this risk, cattle farmers should adopt the following management practices:

Isolate incoming animals, such as new bulls, purchased replacement heifers, feeder calves, or animals returning from exhibitions, for 30 days.

Maintain good perimeter fences to prevent neighboring bulls from breeding with your cows and to keep them in their pasture.

Prevent nose-to-nose contact between your cow herd and newly purchased cattle.

Minimize contact with wildlife and control rodents.

Obtain the health history of purchased cattle.

Limit access to pens, feed storage, mixing areas, feed bunks, and treatment areas.

Clean and disinfect all equipment before using it around healthy cattle.

Keep a record of all visitors to the operation.

Humans can also be disease vectors. Schwab advises, "We control many management practices that can reduce disease spread. Our shoes/boots and clothing can move bacteria and viruses, so having separate shoes/boots for the farm, changing after attending public livestock events such as fairs, auctions, and field days before doing your chores, and preventing access to livestock areas by outside vehicles can help mitigate risk."

Although it is impossible to eliminate all disease spread risks, producers can minimize the impact by implementing sound management practices.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-pamwalker68

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