Minimizing disease risks on your farm

What is Farm Biosecurity?

Farm biosecurity is a set of management practices used to minimise the introduction and prevent the spread of pathogens on the farm. Pathogens are organisms or agents that cause disease and can be bacteria, viruses, parasites or protozoa, or can be agents such as toxins or chemicals.

Mode of transmission

How a pathogen is spread is their mode of transmission, and it can either be direct or indirect.

Direct transmission:
  • Contact – from animal to animal, or person to animal (or vice versa)
  • Droplet – through sneezing or coughing
  • Bodily fluid – this include transplacental, and through lactation, or exchange of body fluids
Indirect transmission
  • Machinery equipment and tools
  • Pest and insect vectors
  • Food and water

Biosecurity should be an important element within Animal Health Plans

The movement of infected livestock is the most effective means by which animals disease spread so ensuring that you have appropriate quarantine procedures in place and ensuring animals are purchased from farms with known disease status is recommended. Below are the routine steps that should be in place on all farms. However, different diseases come with different risks, and often disease is not always apparent, especially in the early stages. If you are concerned about introducing a specific disease onto your farm you should talk to your vet.

Bacteria – Single celled living microorganism that do not have a nucleus. There are millions of different species of bacteria, only some of which can cause disease.

Virus – Microscopic agent that can only multiply within a living cell. Common examples of pathogenic viruses are influenza virus, and bovine viral diarrhoea.

Parasite – A parasite lives and feeds on or in another organism (the host), while contributing nothing to the survival of the host. External parasites (ectoparasites) are flies, fleas, lice, mites or ticks, or internal parasites (called Endoparasites) are worms.

Protozoa – Coccidia are protozoa. They are single celled organisms that have a nucleus, replicate asexually and do not have a cell wall.

Locked farm gate

Keep pathogens off your farm by following the basic biosecurity measures

Basic routine steps used on-farm to minimise the spread of disease:

  1. Handwashing and sanitation
  2. Boot dipping
  3. Disinfect cloths / equipment / trailers / machinery
  4. Quarantine purchased stock for 4 weeks
  5. Safe and correct storage of food and water
  6. Communication with neighbours
  7. Vaccination

Biosecurity – further reading

For more information and guidance on good on-farm biosecurity visit the AHVLA website here.

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  • Livestock should be land-based and integrated with farm cropping enterprises
  • Animals should be provided with conditions that enable them to exhibit natural behaviours
  • Dependency on veterinary medicines should be reduced without jeopardising the well-being of animals


outdoor access

Animals having outdoor access, shade, shelter, lighting and sufficient space for them to undertake free movement and to exhibit natural behaviors.


Using breeds and strains well-suited and adapted to the prevailing conditions.

Health Plan

Implementing herd and flock planning based on sound ecological practices and epidemiological knowledge.


Undertaking good practice with regard to biosecurity.

closed herds

Maintaining animals in closed herds and flocks and at stocking rates that enables free-movement, reduces risks of disease spread and minimises environmental damage.

forage and grazing

Forage and grazing being the main source of nutrients for ruminants, and continuously available to non-ruminants.

production practices

Avoiding the use of mutilations as standard production practices.


Improved understanding and responsible usage of veterinary medicines.