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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.











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Upcoming Events

Dairy Cattle Summer Research Update

July 18, 2019
Batavia, NY

After the day's work is done, come hear about two new research trials conducted by Julio Giordano's lab:
  • Strategies for improving dairy cattle reproductive performance and economics
  • Using automated sensors for improving dairy cattle health monitoring and management

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Weed Resistance Management Demonstration and Plot Tour

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 23, 2019
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Waterloo, NY

Come join us on July 23 in Seneca County at Quinten Good's farm for a demonstration and walking tour of 16 different pre- and post-emergence treatments in soybean and 12 different treatments and combinations in corn.
  • Tall waterhemp and marestail are two weeds that are resistant to glyphosate and ALS herbicide modes of action in the WNY and Finger Lakes regions.
  • Each year the number of acres with resistant weed populations expands.
  • For herbicides to be an effective tool in weed management, we have to know what chemistries & application timings are most effective against these resistant weeds.

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Income and Real Property Tax Primer-A Learning Circle for Women Non-Operating Land Owners of Ag Land

July 24, 2019
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Portageville, NY

For many of us taxes can be a mystery, let's have a conversation with the experts about the tax considerations agricultural landowners need to think about. 
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RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions

June 29, 2019

RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions
for 2019 Crop Year

In response to delayed and prevented planting resulting from above average rainfall and wetness, the USDA Risk Management Agency has made a one-time change to the 2019 crop year prevented planting rules that effectively allows silage corn, if planted as a cover crop following local agricultural expert guidelines, to be acceptable as a post-prevented planting cover crop. Under this one-time rule change, producers are allowed to produce this crop while retaining their prevented planting payment. This change couples with previously announced one-time changes to the prevented planting rules - including expanded acceptable uses for post-prevented planting cover crops and a change in the cover crop haying and grazing start date rule - serve to help those struggling to meet their forage needs due to the weather.

Read the full article from the New York Crop Insurance Education Program.

The USDA-RMA states that "For crop insurance purposes, a cover crop is a crop generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement." PRO-DAIRY specialists Joe Lawrence and Karl Czymmek and Dr. Quirine Ketterings, Professor and Director of Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program have released a letter stating "Corn on Prevented Planting acres meets these objectives."

USDA Announces New Decision Tool for New Dairy Margin Coverage Program

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2019 ? Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced today the availability of a new web-based tool - developed in partnership with the University of Wisconsin - to help dairy producers evaluate various scenarios using different coverage levels through the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

The 2018 Farm Bill authorized
DMC, a voluntary risk management program that offers financial 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. It replaces the program previously known as the Margin Protection Program for Dairy. Sign up for this USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) program opens on June 17.

"With sign-up for the
DMC program just weeks away, we encourage producers to use this new support tool to help make decisions on participation in the program," Secretary Perdue said. "Dairy producers have faced tough challenges over the years, but the DMC program should help producers better weather the ups and downs in the industry."

The University of Wisconsin launched the decision support tool in cooperation with FSA and funded through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Office of the Chief Economist. The tool was designed to help producers determine the level of coverage under a variety of conditions that will provide them with the strongest financial safety net. It allows farmers to simplify their coverage level selection by combining operation data and other key variables to calculate coverage needs based on price projections.

The decision tool assists producers with calculating total premiums costs and administrative fees associated with participation in
DMC. It also forecasts payments that will be made during the coverage year.

The new Dairy Margin Coverage program offers very appealing options for all dairy farmers to reduce their net income risk due to volatility in milk or feed prices," said Dr. Mark Stephenson, Director of Dairy Policy Analysis, University of Wisconsin, Madison. "Higher coverage levels, monthly payments, and more flexible production coverage options are especially helpful for the sizable majority of farms who can cover much of their milk production with the new five million pound maximum for Tier 1 premiums. This program deserves the careful consideration of all dairy farmers."

For more information, access the tool at For
DMC sign up, eligibility and related program information, visit or contact your local USDA Service Center. To locate your local FSA office, visit

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