Less than a third of UK dairy farms follow biosecurity protocols, a new survey has revealed.
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One area of biosecurity where most of the farms surveyed were found to be vulnerable, was the practice of boot-dipping PICTURE: Debbie James

The 2020 Progiene UK dairy biosecurity survey indicates that most farms have the opportunity to reduce the threat of disease by improving basic biosecurity practice.

“Biosecurity certainly isn’t a new areas aspect in the day-to-day running of a dairy farm, but it is a fundamental pillar in preventing disease incidence. This goes on to have short and long-term benefits by improving animal welfare, reducing antimicrobial usage and protecting a farm’s financial and time resources,” says Alison Clark, dairy hygiene specialist for Progiene.

While 89 per cent of dairy farmers surveyed had biosecurity protocols, only eight per cent said they were satisfied with them and only 31 percent reported them being followed closely. Despite protocols being in place, 78 per cent of respondents said their farms have had disease pressure in the last two years, reporting: 15 per cent salmonella, 41 per cent TB, 42 per cent E.coli and 48 per cent Johne’s.

“Bacterial pathogens like those found on the majority of dairy farms are highly transmissible, especially through faeces,” explains Ms Clark. “TB, Johne’s and salmonella can survive for up to two weeks on the boots. When in slurry, crypto can survive upwards of 18 months and Johne’s can survive for up to a year.”

According to veterinary consultant Tommy Heffernan, successful implementation of biosecurity practices requires a combination of mindsets and systems for all those involved in the business.

To develop biosecurity protocols that will be more likely to be followed by staff, Dr Heffernan says to involve them in the process to build an understanding of why protocols are essential to the overall health and performance of the farm.

One area of biosecurity where most of the farms surveyed were found to be vulnerable, was the practice of boot-dipping. While 80 per cent of farms reported having a boot dip, 55 per cent don’t require every on-farm visitor to use it.

According to Ms Clark, this is concerning given diseases with high transmission rates that easily survive on boots were reported on many of these farms.

Report reinforces progress across environmental impact, animal care nutrition and food security.

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