(Protecting The Goat Herd)

The need for a better biosecurity plan for Clear Creek Farms became apparent several months ago when a buyer brought us a present – soremouth!

During the last foot & mouth disease outbreak in Great Britain that started in February 2001, an acquaintance in East Tennessee who owns dairy goats wrote a long message to an e-list about the measures she and her family were taking in case a problem broke out in our state. When I first read the article, I shook my head in total disbelief and considered some of her ideas to border on the paranoid. For example, she kept one vehicle outside the gates of her property; this way if her property were quarantined, they would still have a vehicle they could use to go to work or go grocery shopping. (According to her message, Tennessee had a plan that would require all animals within a 2 miles – or 5 mile, I forget – radius to be quarantined in case of disease outbreak.) Delivery trucks were required to drive through a chemically-treated "bath" entering her property (when she allowed them to enter at all). Guests (and potential customers) to her farm were required to don protective overalls and plastic "booties" before visiting with her animals which touching one of her animals was strictly taboo.

While we considered some of her ideal bazaar and/or overkill, her message did get us to think about biosecurity and some practices we could/should institute on our farm; and after considerable thought, we considered maybe her policies weren't as crazy as our first impression seemed. Then, following 9/11/2001, the media did their best to convince us a terrorist attack was imminent; animals could be used to create havoc and destroy the American confidence in the food supply. So once again biosecurity became important in our lives – along with risk management.

Then realism set in. Was a terrorist really going to introduce bacteria or viruses on a small farm hidden in the Tennessee hills? (And if the terrorist actually found our farm, would he ever be able to find his way out again?) We determined a wild animals bringing in disease would be much more likely.

Still, here are some simple biosecurity practices that can go a long way in protecting our animals.

In the past we have haphazardly enforced a farm policy to spray the shoes of visitors with a Clorox/water solution. We are now trying to find a less damaging disinfectant to use – one that will not permanently damage someone's clothes. In the meantime, we will be purchasing disposable rubber boots for visitors/potential buyers to wear.

We do not wear on the farm the shoes we have on when we go to town, go to visit other farms, or go to sales – except from the driveway to the front door. This way we don't track contaminants on the soles of our shoes to the pasture or barn. We also change clothes before handling our animals.

Never underestimate the value of washing hands. (During the 2001 outbreak of foot & mouth disease in England, the virus was spread by buyers inspecting the mouths of sheep at a livestock auction.) We are concerned when judges at shows put their hands in our goats' mouths after having hands in other goat's mouths (and other places). We are considering providing the judge with Purell Hand Sanitizer to disinfect their hands.

Another good practice to get into would be to spray disinfectant on tires of the truck/trailer to kill germs from town/friend's farms before driving on our property (although the disinfectant, in our case, would probably be washed off crossing the creek to get to the barn area).

When we purchase new animals, we dip their hooves in a disinfectant before we let them off the trailer. We also keep them in quarantine for 30 to 45 days.

We also keep our show animals segregated from the rest of the herd for at least two weeks following a show.

Speaking of shows – it is an excellent idea to keep feed locked in the trailer any time unknown individuals have access to our animals.

Following a show, all equipment needs to be cleaned and, if possible, disinfected before being stored or put back into use on the farm.

We should all be aware of who is stopped outside our fences – tourists or terrorist or? (In our case, it is probably a hunter looking for a place to illegally hunt or someone who is totally lost.) But we do have the practice of keeping our gates locked in an attempt to keep trespassers out. (It is easier to keep someone out than to ask someone to leave!)

We keep feed free of contaminates such as manure or urine by cleaning the troughs regularly.

We vaccinate against clostridial diseases (we use Covexin 8) and consider vaccinating for foot rot (we use Volar on goats with repeat hoof problems). Should we ever have a problem with abortions, we will vaccinate against chlamydiosis; and since we take our goats to shows where they are exposed to other animals, we vaccinate for caseous lymphadenitis.

According to Greg Quakenbush, DVM, "Biosecurity is defined as the sum of the management practices in place to reduce risk by ensuring the absolute health of the livestock, therefore protecting the financial investment and increasing profitability for the producer." Per Ian Cathles, a goat producer in Australia, biosecurity is do-it-yourself animal health – a commonsense approach to animal husbandry producers should use to protect themselves and their neighbors from animal disease. Eugene C. White, DVM, wrote, "Agricultural biosecurity refers to management practices designed to prevent the introduction of pathogens into a herd or the spread of pathogens within a herd that could harm the herd's health or compromise the quality of the products produced by the farm."

Surveillance is the key for keeping the goat industry free of disease and residues, and the individual goat producers are, in the words of Carla Everett (Texas Animal Health Commission), "… our first line of defense if – or when – a livestock disease is accidentally or intentionally introduced" to a goat herd. Both the producers and the government must stay abreast of potential hazards that could endanger our animals' health and/or our food supply.

We suggest everyone implement and maintain a biosecurity plan. The diseases and circumstances for each plan will vary from farm to farm as conditions vary.

Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168

Copyright © 2002 -2019 All Rights Reserved