"...when the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more, another Heaven and another Earth must pass before such a one can be again."
-William Beebe

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Bio-Security Essential to Saving Rare Breeds

Based on information provided by Richard Reynnells, National Program Leader, Animal Production Systems, USDA CSREES/PAS, compiled by the staff from the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

  • Protecting your stock from infectious disease is an important aspect of conservation. The activities and strategies employed in preventing disease transmission constitutes a biological security program. Bio-security is important at all times, but the crisis in the European Union resulting from the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) makes this topic especially pertinent.

  • Bio-security is one of the most difficult management concepts to consistently employ, but is especially critical for owners of rare breeds because these small population make them especially vulnerable. Teaching and talking about bio-security is relatively easy. Doing it is difficult, but that should not dissuade farmers from establishing a program. Do not be intimidated by your inability to implement a comprehensive program. A minimal bio-security program implemented in increments is better than no program at all.

  • Livestock owners should observe these guidelines at all times but especially when there has been an outbreak of an infectious disease:

  • First and foremost, use common sense: do not bring germs to your animals and do not bring your animals to germs.
  • Post a sign at the gate or entrance to your farm and at the animal facilities that tells people that your animals are important and you are trying to prevent disease transfer.
  • Limit contact with other animals. Clean and disinfect your clothes and boots following contact.
  • Limit your visits to other farms, and clean and disinfect your clothes and boots following visits.
  • When buying stock, establish a quarantine area on your farm. Do chores associated with these animals last. Clean and disinfect your clothes and boots following these chores, then shower.
  • Do not share tools or equipment with other farmers. If sharing high-priced items is absolutely necessary, thoroughly clean and disinfect the equipment (tires included) before it leaves your farm and before allowing it back on your farm.
  • Exercise control over visitors' access to your animals.
  • Install a farm gate and lock it.
  • Wash down and disinfect all vehicles entering the farm. Should we have an outbreak of FMD, clean and disinfect feed trucks, delivery vehicles, gas meter reader, and all other vehicles before allowing them on your farm. If you drive off your farm, disinfect your vehicle before re-entering your farm.

In the event of an outbreak of an infectious disease all of the above guidelines should be enhanced and rigidly enforced. There should be NO outside contact and NO visitors. Clean and disinfect all incoming people and vehicles - without exception. Some viruses can survive in the human respiratory tract for several days. Should there be a disease outbreak you should not expose yourself to diseased animals, or to people who have worked with diseased animals, and then care for your own animals.

The disaster resulting from reportable diseases like FMD would be compounded if endangered breeds of livestock and poultry are destroyed and their survival further threatened. Plan for their safekeeping today.