Biosecurity protocols vital at livestock shows

Externship Project

What do livestock shows and daycares have in common? Both are full of young, stressed individuals that are just waiting to infect each other with some sort of disease! This week, we had a four-month-old goat come into the hospital, in respiratory distress. After we quickly stabilized her, we learned from her owner that this goat had been to a show on the past weekend. Just like a toddler coming home from daycare, this goat came down with a respiratory disease.

As veterinarians, we play an important role in disease prevention in our patients and one way we do this is through implementing biosecurity protocols. What is biosecurity you ask? Well, the definition that we were given in school is “programs for contagious disease control that prevent or reduce the introduction or movement of disease on an operation”. Basically, this means that we want to prevent our animals from getting sick by reducing their exposure to disease-causing pathogens. In order to do this, veterinarians work with their clients to increase their animal’s resistance to disease (mainly through vaccination), reduce pathogen reservoirs on the farm and prevent introduction of new pathogens.

Because vets are travelling between different farms every day, we take extra precautions to make sure that we are not bringing disease onto farms. We will change into clean coveralls and disinfect our boots before entering the barn. Once on a farm, we will try and work with the youngest animals first to prevent disease transmission from the adults to the young stock.

The same principles of biosecurity apply to livestock shows. There are so many animals coming from different farms that it is so important to set protocols in place. Things like vaccinating animals before they come, screening for sick animals when they arrive and housing animals separately at the show can really reduce disease transmission.  

Hopefully, the next time our client takes his goats to a show, he will be well prepared to prevent disease in his flock!