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Implementing Biosecurity on Dairy Farms

Jackson Wright, Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

March 1, 2013
Implementing Biosecurity on Dairy Farms

Moreover, biosecurity can be somewhat intangible because it is often referred to in the context of a catastrophic event such as an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD). However, New York State is currently experiencing an increased incidence in Salmonella Dublin. Salmonella Dublin is a bacteria that generally manifests itself as respiratory disease in calves and can cause permanent lung damage. In addition, Salmonella Dublin is a zoonotic disease which means that it can spread from cows to humans. This recent outbreak should act as a reminder of the importance of implementing biosecurity principles into our daily practices.

To practically incorporate biosecurity on dairy farms, it's important to understand how diseases spread. Many diseases spread through the fecal-oral route, or in other words when cows ingest manure. As a result employees should avoid walking in animal feed if their boots are contaminated with manure. Similarly, equipment should be designated to handle only feed or only manure. In addition, calves are the most vulnerable animals on the farm; therefore, implementing, a boot wash before entering any calving facilities or calf barns can be a practical solution. Being conscious of this route of infection should be the first step in implementing biosecurity.

Taking this a step further, many biosecurity plans involve the RITS principle.  RITS is an acronym for Resistance/Recognition, Isolation, Traffic Control, and Sanitation. Resistance involves implementing a proper vaccination program. This should be developed with help from your herd veterinarian. Along with resistance it's important to realize that cows are constantly being bombarded with pathogens. Usually the cow's immune systems can keep these pathogens in check; however you can tip the balance in favor of the pathogens if animals are exposed to a high pathogen load or if animals are under stress. Stress factors such as overcrowding, heat stress, or facilities lacking in cow comfort can suppress the immune response, allowing pathogens to proliferate and cause disease. This can be a vicious cycle because once animals actively show disease symptoms they are usually simultaneously shedding the disease into the environment, increasing pathogen load and perpetuating the cycle. It's also important to quickly recognize an outbreak, meaning if multiple animals are showing signs of disease action should be taken to minimize the spread of disease. Often this requires advice from your herd veterinarian and leads me to the "I" in RITS or isolating infected animals. If you are not maintaining a "closed" herd, purchased animals should come with vaccination records and test negative for Johnes, Leukosis, and Salmonella Dublin. New arrivals should be placed in isolation for at least two weeks to prevent any new disease from being introduced to the herd.

This can be difficult to implement but recognize that new arrivals are generally under a lot of stress from transportation and experiencing a new environment. Therefore, should they be a carrier animal they will likely begin actively shedding a disease into the environment. If they are a healthy animal they will likely be more susceptible to new infections because their immune system is suppressed. The "T" involves traffic control. Employees should move from the youngest animals to older animals, working from healthy animals to sick animals. This movement pattern reduces the pathogen load for healthy animals. Traffic control also includes visitors to the farm. Visitors should have a clear parking area that directs them to an employee or a manager who can facilitate their movement around your facility. Worst case scenario is when visitors can access any part of your operation, petting lactating cows and then visiting the calf barn to have the baby calves suck on their hands. This poses a threat to the health of your calves and a threat to the health of the visitor because calves can carry several zoonotic diseases, including cryptosporidium. Finally, this leads me to the "S" or sanitation. People who care for sick animals should change clothes before working with healthy animals or calves. They should also be provided with a hand washing station or hand sanitizer. This provides protection to both other animals and to your employees.











calendar of events

Upcoming Events

Beginning Farmer/Hobby Farmer Workshop $5/pp, class size is limited, so pre-register by April 15th!

April 27, 2019
9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Canandaigua, NY

This hands-on workshop is for beginning or part-time farmers who would like to improve their farm machinery skills, learn to properly and safely maintain their equipment to protect their investment. If you have been thinking about buying a tractor, new or used, two-wheel or four-wheel drive, compact or utility or more come join us. Topics include: selecting the right size/type tractor for the job; basic maintenance; staying safe around tractors and equipment; attaching implements properly; and information about ROPS and SMV's. There will be time for questions.

Pre-registration requested by April 15, 2019 email Amy with your name, address, and phone number or call 585-394-3977 x 429.
Fee: $5.00/person. Class size is limited.

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2019 Pastured Poultry Seminar, lunch included so please register by May 10th! $25/person

May 18, 2019
Registration begins at 8:00 a.m.w/ coffee & donuts with the Program running from 9:00 a.m. - 5 p. m.
Attica, NY

The main speaker this year is Eli Reiff of Mifflinburg Pennsylvania. Eli raises broilers, turkeys, sheep, and beef, all on pasture. Topics to be covered will include the pasture, feed and nutrition, marketing, costs, and much more. As we grow as farm operators and get bigger, we may not pay as much attention to the basics as we should. So those areas are where we will start, and then expand to cover the group's interests.

Mike Badger, Director of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association will also be available for a round-table discussion. Plans are to have representatives from Farm Bureau, NYCAMH for farm health and safety, Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County, as well as others.

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Calling all 9th-12th graders! 4th Annual Precision Agriculture Day at Genesee Community College

May 21, 2019
9:00 am - 1:30 pm Register by Friday May 10th! $15/per person includes lunch
Batavia, NY

Calling all 9th-12th graders!  We have an exciting new program for students interested in technology, science, engineering, and agriculture!
Would you like to:
  • Learn about how Drones collect information
  • Check out some potential career opportunities that have new and ever-changing technology
  • Learn how these technologies can be used in our own backyards in WNY
  • Discover potential and exciting career opportunities

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Producers Previously Enrolled in the LGM Program Now Eligible for MPP

Dairy Producers Previously Enrolled in the Livestock Gross Margin Program Now Eligible for 2018 Margin Protection Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that dairy producers who elected to participate in the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle Program (LGM-Dairy) now have the opportunity to participate in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) for 2018 coverage. Sign-up will take place March 25 through May 10, 2019.
Eligible producers can enroll during the sign-up period at their local USDA service center. To locate your office, visit

Smart Farming Team Technical Assistance Grant Application

The Labor Ready Farmer Project is offering grants to provide up to 12 hours of Technical Assistance (TA) consulting services to farms who want to make improvements to their farm's processes in hiring, training, managing or evaluating employees. Applicants will choose from one of the following four areas for TA assistance and identify a specific project. If selected they will be matched with a "Smart Farming Team" of consultants who will provide one on one technical assistance.
Please complete this application and send to Nicole Waters, Beginning Farm Project Coordinator for the Cornell Small Farms Program. The form can be submitted by email, mail or in-person at the address listed below. Please feel free to call or email with any questions.

Nicole Waters - Beginning Farmer Project Coordinator
Plant Science Building, Room 15b
Tower Road, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: 607-255-9911

Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

USDA Announces January Income over Feed Cost Margin Triggers First 2019 Dairy Sa

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2019 ? The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced this week that the January 2019 income over feed cost margin was $7.99 per hundredweight, triggering the first payment for eligible dairy producers who purchase the appropriate level of coverage under the new but yet-to-be established Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

DMC, which replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy, is a voluntary risk management program for dairy producers that was authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. DMC offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced last week that sign up for 
DMC will open by mid-June of this year. At the time of sign up, producers who elect a DMC coverage level between $8.00 and $9.50 would be eligible for a payment for January 2019.

For example, a dairy operation with an established production history of 3 million pounds (30,000 cwt.) that elects the $9.50 coverage level for 50 percent of its production could potentially be eligible to receive $1,887.50 for January.

Sample calculation:
$9.50 - $7.99 margin = $1.51 difference
$1.51 times 50 percent of production times 2,500 cwt. (30,000 cwt./12) = $1,887.50

The calculated annual premium for coverage at $9.50 on 50 percent of a 3-million-pound production history for this example would be $2,250.

Sample calculation:
3,000,000 times 50 percent = 1,500,000/100 = 15,000 cwt. times 0.150 premium fee = $2,250

Operations making a one-time election to participate in DMC through 2023 are eligible to receive a 25 percent discount on their premium for the existing margin coverage rates.

"Congress created the Dairy Margin Coverage program to provide an important financial safety net for dairy producers, helping them weather shifting milk and feed prices," FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. "This program builds on the previous Margin Protection Program for Dairy, carrying forward many of the program upgrades made last year based on feedback from producers. We're working diligently to implement the DMC program and other FSA programs authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill."

Additional details about DMC and other FSA farm bill program changes can be found at

New Guidance for Mortality Disposal Issued

NYS Department of Ag and Markets has posted guidelines on disposal of livestock carcasses, in response to reports that some rendering companies have halted pickups from farms.|1