On-Ranch Biosecurity — There's No Easy Way Out


The word “biosecurity” can conjure up some interesting images, not limited to an overabundance of showers, hard-drives of paperwork and hazmat suits. But, ensuring good levels of on-farm biosecurity doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

“There’s been so much focus on biosecurity as a word,” says Franklyn Garry, professor at Colorado State University, “that it does, it has an overtone of like seriousness and problems and inconvenience, that probably are an impediment.”

Garry, who spoke at this year’s UCVM Beef Cattle Conference in Calgary, argues that taking steps towards good on-farm biosecurity isn’t that messy.

“[The practices] are not nearly as overwhelming as maybe the superficial impression would be.”

And though it can prove an effective tool in avoiding diseases like foot and mouth, Garry argues that the focus shouldn’t be solely on keeping disease from entering a herd.

“I blend two slightly different concepts when I talk about biosecurity, and I tend to phrase it as ‘biosecurity and hygiene management’.”

Hygiene management, or biocontainment, involves preventing disease from spreading once contracted. After all, says Garry, there are some diseases that you can’t prevent from entering an operation, because they’re ubiquitous.

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In his presentation, Garry challenged conference attendees to question why they don’t put more energy into better management practices around biosecurity. He believes it all boils down to human nature, and our tendency to “look for the easiest pathway”, or, “the solution in the bottle”.

Alternatively, people will say ‘oh well we vaccinate,’ which again, actually costs a fair amount of money and is less effective if you don’t match it with other management that prevents disease spread.

It’s a lot easier to find a disease and treat it, than to improve biosecurity. But, it’s also more costly in the long run.

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