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National Farm-Level Biosecurity Planning Guide Proactive Management of Animal Resources

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Table of Contents

A) Background

"Animal biosecurity" is a general description for a set of measures designed to protect Canada's animal resources from foreign and established infectious and parasitic disease agents at the national, regional, and farm levels.

Why Is Animal Biosecurity Important?

Maintenance of the highest possible animal health status is vital to the sustainability and profitability of the Canadian agricultural sector. Access to premium markets will increasingly depend on our ability to demonstrate freedom from serious animal diseases and pests. Biosecurity standards will play an increasing role in meeting processor requirements, in quality assurance programs, and in retaining market access and competitiveness. There is a growing trend to ensure health certification as an indicator of quality assurance and biosecurity in purchasing and moving live animals. Consumers today are more educated and engaged in welfare and biosecurity issues in the production of animals, demanding the highest quality of production practices in the agricultural community.

Foreign animal diseases (FADs) and production level diseases – commonly found in parts of Canada – can spread from farm to farm and result in animal sickness, death, and economic loss. The best defence against disease is to implement sound biosecurity practices at the farm level.

An effective biosecurity plan can help to accomplish the following:

What Is Farm-Level Animal Biosecurity?

The focus of this guide is farm-level biosecurity, although it is recognized that biosecurity interventions are necessary along the continuum of production systems at all levels regional, national, and international.

Farm-level biosecurity is a series of management practices designed to reduce the introduction of disease and pests onto a farm (bioexclusion) and to minimize their spread within a farm and beyond (biocontainment). Disease and pests can reduce productivity, affect farm incomes and animal welfare, increase veterinary and labour costs, reduce the value of farmland, close export markets, affect domestic consumption, and reduce prices that producers receive for their animals and products. In addition to adverse effects on the agricultural economy, there can be negative effects on the environment and human health.

Who Is Responsible for Farm-Level Animal Biosecurity?

All owners and managers have the ultimate responsibility to protect the health of animals under their care, and should consider developing a written farm-level biosecurity plan for their operation. This can be accomplished by working in close cooperation with private veterinarians, extension specialists, and provincial and federal veterinarians available in each region. Quick and simple measures built into your everyday management practices will go a long way toward protecting your farm and your future from the costly consequences of disease.

Biosecurity may be considered as a whole-farm approach to animal health management. The cooperation of visitors and agri-service personnel is an important part of a plan, but, ultimately, the owner or manager must be willing to do what is necessary to ensure that established protocols are followed by family members, employees, and visitors.

Why Are Farm-Level Biosecurity Planning and Implementation Important?

In the past, producers and the agricultural community have relied heavily on the use of vaccinations and antimicrobials for managing animal health and production. It is globally accepted that, with the evolution of antimicrobial resistance, emerging and re-merging disease, and resistant strains of disease and pests, this approach is no longer effective. Modern farming demands a more holistic approach. Holistic prevention that incorporates biosecurity, medication, and vaccination is the most cost-effective protection against animal disease.

Putting biosecurity practices in place to keep animals healthy has been a long-standing and successful practice on many Canadian farms. There is, however, a move toward applying biosecurity practices in a more systematic fashion, across numerous commodities, and from the farm level to the national level.

The complexity of intensively managed farm operations (high populations, staggered production cycles, rearing environments, and other demands and logistics) increases the risk potential of introduction and spread of disease. These premises may require stricter biosecurity protocols. Many specialized farm operations, such as integrated poultry and hog farms, have well-developed biosecurity plans to protect the health status of the flock or herd. However, extensive management systems, involving the use of pasture, rangeland, and even the community, can benefit from applying the elements of biosecurity described here.

Securing your farm is all about knowing the risks to your enterprise, understanding the ways in which your animals can be exposed to disease, and taking steps to minimize these risks. The steps necessary to put sound biosecurity practices into place often do not require major capital investment, only management and planning changes.

Disease and Animal Production

Disease may result from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, infectious organisms; toxins; trauma or damage to a tissue or organ; and metabolic, nutritional, and degenerative conditions. However, a primary cause is infection from pathogens, namely viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. The source or vector for an infectious organism often includes the following:

The ability of an animal industry sector to withstand an outbreak will be influenced by not only the collective efforts of the sector, but also by individual biosecurity plans and their effective implementation.

B) A Generic Guide

The purpose of this guide is to identify key elements, considerations, and critical points of biosecurity intervention that are applicable to various animal species at the farm level. It is designed to assist government, national associations, and producers in developing and implementing biosecurity programs. These preventive guidelines are not all-inclusive, but are generally accepted as beneficial management practices for most sector animal species. Adopting these practices does not guarantee protection from all potential diseases, but an effective plan will greatly help in protecting your investment in your animal operation.

This guide is intended to encourage producers to implement the use of sound disease prevention and to control practices industry-wide. There are different types of production operations, with different goals. Sector needs vary geographically, and biosecurity considerations may be regulated federally, provincially, and regionally or municipally. One biosecurity plan will not fit the needs of every farm operation. Biosecurity plans should be developed to meet the specific needs of each operation, with each operation implementing these practices into daily routines that are appropriate for specific diseases or risks. Producers should review their production practices in relation to disease prevention on a frequent basis and ensure that their strategies are carried out. An effective biosecurity plan should be flexible and open to new knowledge and technology as these become available.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has developed a similar approach to protecting Canada's plant resource base. The plant guide has been designed in parallel with the animal resource guide, with a focus on biosecurity measures for crops. The National Farm-Level Biosecurity Planning Guide – Proactive Management of Plant Resources can be accessed from the CFIA website.

C) Developing Your Farm Biosecurity Plan

Developing a biosecurity plan should be a team effort between the owner or producer and a veterinarian, with input from other sources. Establishing a practical farm biosecurity plan involves a rational risk assessment and careful planning to manage the targeted risks.

The following steps are typically involved in developing a farm-level biosecurity plan:

At a minimum, a biosecurity plan should focus on biosecurity interventions that minimize the following:

D) Conceptual Farm Layout Incorporating Biosecurity Zones

Click on image for larger view
Figure 1 - Conceptual Farm Layout Incorporating Biosecurity Zones. Description follows.

Description for Figure 1.

Figure 1 - Conceptual Farm Layout Incorporating Biosecurity Zones The image shows one possible farm layout incorporating biosecurity zones. The smaller biosecurity zone, the restricted access zone (RAZ), contains the barn where the production animals are housed, with a transitional area or ante room at the front, and a controlled access point (CAP) at the doorway. The larger biosecurity zone, the controlled access zone (CAZ), encompasses the RAZ along with feed and equipment storage; the CAZ has its own CAP (likely a gate) where the driveway meets the RAZ. The house and the parking area are located outside the CAZ. A neighbour is indicated to the south.

Figure 1:
Houses (residence) and parking areas are located outside the first biosecurity zone called the controlled access zone (CAZ). The CAZ contains operational facilities indirectly involved in animal production (e.g. feed storage) and the restricted access zone (RAZ). The RAZ houses, contains, or confines production animals. Both the CAZ and the RAZ are accessed through a controlled access point (CAP).

E) Definitions

Anteroom:
an area or room that immediately precedes the restricted access zone (RAZ) and provides a transition from the controlled access zone (CAZ).
Closed:
said of a herd or flock for which there is no purchase of replacement animals of any age – all replacement animals have been bred and raised on-farm. (If animals have been taken to a show and returned, the herd or flock can no longer be considered closed.)
Controlled access point:
visually defined entry point(s) through which traffic (such as workers, equipment and feed trucks) enters the CAZ and/or the RAZ.
Controlled access zone (CAZ):
the area of land and buildings constituting the production area of the property that is accessible through a securable controlled access point.
Controlled entry point:
visually defined entry point through which all traffic (such as workers, visitors, equipment and vehicles) enters the CAZ and/or RAZ.
Farm:
a tract of land held for the purposes of cultivating or raising certain animals (for food, fibre, or recreation). This may also be referred to as the "property" or "premises." It includes land, buildings, zones, and allocated or designated areas.
Isolated:
said of animals that are physically separated such that new and returning animals or clinically sick animals, as well as their excretions and secretions, cannot contact resident animals.
Livestock (animal):
any animal (including birds, insects, and fish) intentionally reared in an agricultural setting for the purposes of profit or subsistence, whether for food, fur, fibre, dairy, draft, breeding, sport, or hobby purposes, or other product or labour.
Producer:
one who owns or rents land or rears certain animals.
Production area:
includes buildings, range areas, areas used for feed storage and handling, pickup areas, and the area immediately surrounding buildings.
Restricted access zone (RAZ):
an area inside the CAZ that is used, or intended to be used, to house animals, including for semi-confinement and range production, and where personnel and equipment access is more restricted than it is for the CAZ. The RAZ, an inner biosecurity zone, is sometimes referred to as the production area or restricted area (RA).
Transition area:
a designated location for the application of biosecurity procedures to people and equipment before entering a biosecurity zone (CAZ and/or RAZ). The transition area may be a controlled access point, a controlled entry point or an anteroom.
Visitors:
include salesmen, delivery people, veterinarians, livestock haulers, livestock-owning neighbours, livestock specialist, family members, international visitors, utility personnel, contractors, disease surveillance technicians, artificial insemination or embryo technicians, feed industry personnel, supply sales representatives, equipment repair individuals, and anyone who has had contact with animals.

F) Elements of a Farm-Level Biosecurity Plan

When developing a farm-level biosecurity plan, the following three areas should be considered:

  1. facility location and layout;
  2. operational routines; and
  3. animal health management.

The producer is encouraged to design measures that are practical, outcome-based, and flexible. For an example of the flexibility in defining biosecurity elements and developing a plan, access the National Avian On-Farm Biosecurity Standard.

As a biosecurity plan is developed, certain limitations (e.g. geographic, economic) may prevent the implementation of ideal practices. In these circumstances, increased emphasis and rigour in other elements may be advisable.

1. Farm Location and Layout

This section addresses the larger physical features of an operation. Given the intensification of production and limited farmland, the location of an operation and how it is designed are becoming increasingly important factors. Location and layout are easily incorporated into the construction of a new operation. For existing farms, operational routines and animal health management practices are the easiest and least costly to change and provide the greatest immediate impact on a farming operation.

1.1 Geography

The natural environment surrounding your farm is important for understanding the disease risks in your area. During a disease event, the physical features of your operation and local farms are vital information for helping reduce the risk of disease introduction and spread.

Biosecurity considerations:

1.2 Layout

An illustration of the layout of your operation can assist in training new employees, directing visitors, and planning future production processes and disease response. Understanding the logic of production movements and work patterns can be important to for the development, implementation, and modification of a biosecurity plan.

Biosecurity considerations:

1.3 Traffic Flow

Vehicles and the surfaces on which they travel can be vectors for the introduction, spread, and release of disease-causing agents. Thus, it is important to control and, if necessary, restrict the movement of vehicles on your premises.

Biosecurity considerations:

1.4 Landscape

Natural features, including vegetation, waterways, and topography, can benefit a biosecurity plan by providing natural barriers and drainage. These features on your property provide a cheap means of implementing biosecurity measures.

Biosecurity considerations:

2. Operational Routine

This section focuses on day-to-day processes. The arrival and movement of owners, employees, visitors, and services are daily occurrences for a farm operation, and increase the risk of introduction and spread of disease and pests. Risk-reducing measures are easily incorporated into operational routines and often require little financial commitment. The success of operational routines as risk-reducing practices depends on responsibility, cooperation, diligence, flexibility, and planning.

2.1 Biosecurity Zones

Biosecurity zones are those areas that involve biosecurity measures for access, exit, and movement. Specifically, the controlled access zone (CAZ) and the restricted access zone (RAZ) represent areas of increasing risk. To be effective, these zones should be visible and controlled, and their importance should be understood.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.2 Movement of Employees and Visitors

People, clothing, and footwear provide numerous risk factors for a biosecurity plan. However, measures can be developed and implemented to reduce these risks through protocols and the strict control of access to biosecurity zones.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.3 Movement of Vehicles and Equipment

Just as people and clothing pose biosecurity risks, vehicles and equipment also pose high levels of risk. This risk is increased if they travel on and off the premises or have contact, direct or indirect, with animals or animal products.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.4 Construction and Maintenance of Facilities and Property

A well-constructed and maintained operation strengthens a biosecurity plan by aiding cleaning and disinfection processes and reducing the risks associated with visitors, services, and pests.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.5 Animal Feed and Bedding

Ingestion of contaminated feed or contact with contaminated bedding can introduce and spread disease quickly. Contamination may occur off-site at purchase or on-site as a result of inappropriate storage.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.6 Water

Water sources and delivery systems have the potential to expose animals to disease-causing pathogens on a daily basis. Aquatic environments (ponds, lakes, etc.) cannot be controlled and are potential reservoirs for serious disease agents.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.7 Manure

Daily exposure (direct or indirect) to manure is routine for animals and employees. Manure is an animal product and can easily attract insects and pests, creating the potential for high-risk situations as employees or animals move around the facility. Consider employees and equipment that have entered the RAZ to have had either direct or indirect contact with manure.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.8 Disposal of Mortalities

Mortalities create risk situations in several ways. They may act as a reservoir of pathogens (in the case of death due to disease), attract pests, or transfer disease off-site (in the case of serviced removal). On-site considerations include movement around the facility, storage and/or containment areas, and compost or final disposal.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.9 Pets, Pests, Weeds, Feral Animals and Wildlife

Animals, insects, and birds create a unique set of risk situations. The farming of animals creates favourable environments for pests, including shelter, food, and water. Pests can be direct vectors for disease-causing agents, and they can spread disease through movement and create a food chain that attracts more, and possibly higher-risk pests.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.10 Cleaning and Disinfection

Cleaning and disinfection are key pillars of a strong biosecurity plan. These processes work in conjunction with zoning and other measures. Cleaning and disinfection reduces pathogen load on people, equipment, and vehicles, which mitigates the risk of pathogen movement between and within production areas.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.11 Planning and Training

Knowledge supports the control of farm operations. It also allows for future planning as situations or production processes change. Developing and implementing a training program provides employees with a sense of involvement and pride, and helps to avoid complacency.

Biosecurity considerations:

3. Animal Health Management

3.1 Good Management Practices

Developing, implementing, and maintaining good management practices allows a biosecurity plan to operate effectively and provides animals with an environment that is conducive to good health and maximum production.

Biosecurity considerations:

3.2 Observation and Evaluation

Early detection of a disease concern is vital to minimizing its impact and facilitating its containment to a premises or individual production units.

Interventions:

3.3 New and Returning Animals

Introducing new animals, or animals returning from off-site activity, has the potential to introduce disease-causing agents into a production system.

Biosecurity considerations:

3.4 Sick Animals

Sick animals can easily transmit disease through direct or indirect contact. Initially, the disease may be low grade; however, animals in a compromised or weakened condition are more susceptible to highly contagious and virulent disease agents.

Biosecurity considerations:

3.5 Vaccination and Medication

Implementing proactive measures will help reduce the risk of disease becoming established on a farm. The appropriate use of medication, for example, can improve the efficacy of treatment and help reduce the risk of future concerns.

Biosecurity considerations:

3.6 Disease Response Plans

The ability to react quickly and effectively to a disease situation is vital to minimizing the impact on an operation and helps prevent disease spread.

Biosecurity considerations:

Appendix A: Farm-Level Biosecurity Checklist for Animals

Section 1 Farm Location and Layout

1.1 Geography

A map of the property, including boundaries, roadways, waterways, buildings and production areas, is available.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box

1.2 Layout

Cleaning and disinfection areas are appropriately located.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Isolation or quarantine facilities are available.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
A perimeter fence or other boundary surrounds the property.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
A visible demarcated boundary surrounds the production area.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

1.3 Traffic Flow

Routes are defined and provide direction.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Appropriate signs exist.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Parking areas exist.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Main entrance to the production area and premises can be secured.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

1.4 Landscape

Vegetation is managed.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Natural drainage is effective.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

Section 2 Operational Routine

2.1 Biosecurity Zones

Controlled and restricted access zones are established.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Entry and exit points are controlled.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Appropriate signs exist.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

2.2 Movement of Employees and Visitors

Access to biosecurity zones is limited and controlled through controlled access points.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Disposable dedicated outerwear and footwear are provided.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Cleaning and disinfection occurs at production area entries and exits.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Handwashing facilities are available.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Biosecure workflow patterns are followed.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Visitors are controlled and have limited access to production areas.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Foreign visitors, employees, or family who have had contact with animals or farms outside Canada or the U.S. follow established biosecurity protocols.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
A visitor log is maintained.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

2.3 Movement of Vehicles and Equipment

Parking areas outside the production zone are available.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Vehicles and equipment entering or exiting a biosecure zone are cleaned and disinfected.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Only essential vehicles and equipment enter the production zones.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
There is no vehicle or equipment sharing between farms.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Vehicles and equipment having direct contact with animals or their products are dedicated or cleaned and disinfected.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Vehicle movement log is maintained.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

2.4 Construction and Maintenance of Facilities and Property

There is a written maintenance plan.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Construction materials are easily cleaned and disinfected.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Equipment, buildings, boundaries, and signs are in good repair.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Standing water is removed or minimized.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Entry of pests and wildlife is deterred.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

2.5 Animal Feed and Bedding

These are sourced from a quality-assured supplier.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
They are securely stored.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

2.6 Water

It meets potable standards for animal consumption.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
It is tested regularly.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Water from natural or open sources is filtered and treated.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

2.7 Manure

There is a written management plan.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Manure management adheres to regulatory guidelines.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Removal, movement, and storage follow risk-reduction measures.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
The facility uses effective composting techniques.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

2.8 Disposal of Mortalities

There is a written management plan.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Mortality management adheres to regulatory guidelines.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Removal, movement, and storage follow risk-reduction measures.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Mortalities are tested when appropriate.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

2.9 Pets, Pests, Weeds, Feral Animals and Wildlife

There is an integrated pest management program.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Attractive environments are eliminated or reduced.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Activity is monitored.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Access to production areas is deterred.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
The presence of companion animals is restricted or controlled by the management plan.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

2.10 Cleaning and Disinfection

There is a written cleaning and disinfection program.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Downtimes between production cycles are maximized.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Cleaning and disinfection measures occur between production cycles, after isolation or quarantine, and disease occurrences.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

2.11 Planning and Training

A written, practical biosecurity plan has been developed in consultation with a veterinarian.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
The plan has been shared with family, employees, services, and neighbours.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
SOPs have been written for routine biosecurity protocols.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Biosecurity training takes place.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

Section 3 Animal Health Management

3.1 Good Management Practices

A written biosecurity plan is in place.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Staff are trained, knowledgeable, and experienced in noting signs of disease.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Production health and movement records are maintained.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
The facility uses modern management practices.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

3.2 Observation and Evaluation

Livestock is observed and inspected daily.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Trigger points for response are established.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Health records are maintained.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

3.3 New and Returning Animals

Protocols are available for new and returning animals.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
New animals are sourced from reputable suppliers and are of a health status equivalent to or higher than that of resident animals.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Screening tests and declarations are performed.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
New or returning animals are isolated for an appropriate time and are observed.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

3.4 Sick Animals

There are established protocols.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Sick animals and their products are isolated or quarantined.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Cause of disease is investigated by a veterinarian.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

3.5 Vaccination and Medication

There is a written animal health and welfare management plan.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Records are maintained.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Vaccines and medications are stored appropriately.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
Treatment is supervised by a veterinarian.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

3.6 Disease Response Plans

There is a written response plan.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
There are established trigger levels for response.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box
The plan is available and understood by family and employees.
Comments space
Yes Box No Box N/A Box

(Add more as required.)

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