Merck Animal Health announced the release of its newest Dairy Care 365 training module on biosecurity. This module introduces “bioawareism,” a term that highlights the need for biosecurity, biocontainment and sanitation on farms — specifically dairies — and how these three areas of focus contribute to better animal health and well-being and increased food safety.
The module includes best practices and step-by-step instructions for designing a biosecurity plan, as well as a template for biosecurity standard operating procedures. This is the first of a two-part series featuring biosecurity expert Dr. Danelle Bickett-Weddle with Iowa State University.
While many dairy producers are beginning to take biosecurity plans more seriously, industry experts recognize the growing need to strengthen standards surrounding biosecurity. Results from a Dairy Cattle Management Practices Report (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2014) indicated that only 9.6% of operations quarantine new animals on arrival, revealing an area of vulnerability for disease exposure and outbreaks.
“Raising healthy animals and keeping them well is the number one priority of dairy producers, so they want to do all they can to minimize the risk of disease,” said Dr. Mike Bolton, technical services manager with Merck Animal Health. “We prioritized biosecurity as the next Dairy Care 365 module because of its potential to positively and significantly impact animal health and well-being, as well as the financial costs and handler burdens associated with fighting disease outbreaks. While no farm is exempt from disease pressure, there are steps we can implement to reduce the risk of a devastating epidemic.”
One of the most important lesson points from the module focuses on how to conduct an assessment of an operation to identify potential biosecurity hazards, their potential impact and the likelihood of introduction. From the assessment, behavioral factors are introduced, including setting expectations for all animal handlers, designating vehicle access points and establishing the best place for cattle loading to reduce disease exposure. The module also touches on key processes and record keeping to help maintain critical information, such as the identification of all new and returning animals, pregnancy status and vaccination and treatment history.
The training is offered in English and Spanish, and the 25-minute video module is followed with a brief quiz — to help ensure understanding of the material — and a certificate of completion to document training.
Dairy Care 365 training modules are designed to help dairy producers and veterinarians train employees to provide the best animal care at every stage of life. The modules are filmed on actual dairies and provide instruction using real on-farm settings situations to provide a realistic representation of animals, dairy workers and facilities.