by Jean Clavelle
If you have ever had anything to do with livestock, chances are you’ve heard the word biosecurity. Biosecurity refers to practices designed to prevent, reduce or eliminate the introduction and incidental spread of disease. Most of us would associate this with poultry or swine production systems but have you ever thought about biosecurity as it relates to your horse?
Horses are often kept in areas of high traffic and are therefore of high risk for exposure to disease. With some basic practices and common sense you can reduce the biosecurity risk for your own horses whether you have a herd of 20 or of 1!
Here are a few tips:
- Have a regular vaccination and worming schedule developed in consultation with your veterinarian – This is the first line of defense and prevention!
- Quarantine – Keep all sick horses or new horses away from the existing herd for a period of one month or until cleared by a veterinarian.
- When away from home – While at events bring your own equipment (buckets, grooming, tack) and do not share with others or use communal sources. Prior to returning home, clean and disinfect all equipment thoroughly.
- Be careful of your environment – Rats, birds, insects and other vermin are unfortunately good at spreading a number of diseases. A pest control program is essential and should be monitored seasonally.
These are all simple strategies to prevent disease in your horse herd and once you are in the habit they are easy to maintain. After all prevention is easier than treatment!
If you want to determine if your farm or horses are at risk check out the EquineGuelph.ca biosecurity risk calculator or have a look at http://www.equineguelph.ca/pdf/facts/bio_security_info_FINAL.pdf which is an excellent fact sheet for basic equine biosecurity.