Infectious diseases can challenge the performance and threaten the lives of animals. This risk can extend across fence lines, so unless your farm is bordered on all sides by roads and/or rivers, or double fenced, biosecurity needs to be addressed.
Diseases to consider include Bovine Virus Diarrhoea, Johne’s disease, Tuberculosis, Brucella ovis, Salmonella, Theileria orientalis, and more recently Micoplasma Bovis which can have large impacts on animal health. The majority of disease outbreaks are a consequence of introduction of infected animals onto a property, rather than having contracted the disease “over the fence” from the neighbour. However situations do arise when the latter is the case.
Neighbours are not necessarily aware of what is happening next door and so don’t have the knowledge, and hence an opportunity, to institute disease prevention or control measures.
So, if you have an infectious disease diagnosed on your property, four key points to consider are:
Impact of disease on your property?
Will vary depending on type of disease and severity – from decreased growth weights and production, to movement controls and even stock deaths.
Control and containment of disease on your property?
Variable and specific to each situation…
Risk to, and potential impact on, neighbour’s animals?
There may be little impact on your operation but potentially enormous impact on your neighbour(s) who, for example, has stud ram hoggets or bulls for sale, has dairy graziers, or has heifers destined to go on a boat to China.
Prevention of future disease?
Vaccination, pre-entry testing or closed-herd systems are all ways of reducing the risks of (re-)introduction of a disease. Generally control can be achieved through means such as preventative treatment(s), test and slaughter and/or vaccination programmes.
If faced with a disease outbreak on your farm, remember to consider your neighbour(s) and the impact that it may have on them as well as on your property. Communicate with them to create an awareness of the disease and use your vet for advice and support (which is always in confidence) to help create that awareness.