Bring out slurry and manure – but avoid spreading of pathogens

Slurry and manure can contain pathogens. To avoid spreading of infectious diseases between farms or spreading of pathogens around your farm it is important to take precautions.
First, get an overview of the overall logistic – where are the traffic routes on the farm. Pay special attention to routes for transport of slurry and manure. Avoid using the same routes for the feeding trucks, both inside and outside. Always keep a good safety distance to the feed.

Sometimes the slurry tank or lagoon is placed in a way that the slurry tanker must cross the same route the feeding truck uses. In these cases, have a plan for cleaning up these crossings and make sure it is done. This is a way to minimize the risk of spreading pathogens.

When handling slurry and manure keep distance to the stables and animals to prevent exposing animals to pathogens.

The most optimal route for safe transport of slurry and manure might be a little longer, but it is worth it compared to the consequences of spreading diseases in your herd.

Avoid spill when filling the tanker and under transport of slurry and manure. When spillage occur, there is a risk that pathogens can be spread around the herd via footwear and vehicle tires contaminated with slurry or manure. Therefore, be careful when handling slurry and manure and implement good routines for fast cleaning when spillage accidentally occurs.

Slurry contaminated vehicles and equipment can also spread diseases between farms. Make sure that only clean and disinfected equipment enter your farm. If the vehicle and equipment is washed and disinfected on your premises, then do it in a place where washing water do not get close to stables, animals or feed. Spreading pathogens with aerosols during washing with high pressure is a serious hazard. Make sure that aerosols do not enter stables or feed.

Genomic selection for profit and antibiotic reduction

It is easy to breed for production or type, but how can you breed to reduce antiobiotic use? Looking at current bull data the only relevent data is longevity, somatic cell count and perhaps condition score. Zoetis’ Genomic evaluation with CLARIFIED Plus ( now includes specific health trait evaluations including mastitis, metritis, lameness, calf respiratory and cow respiratory. Ranking cows on their mastitis score alone shows that the top 25% of cows use 65% less antiobiotics than the bottom 25% which was an average of 1.28 fewer inter-mammary tubes per cow. It is never recommended to use single trait selection, so Clarified have developed a Dairy Wellness Profit (DWP) index which combines production, type, fertility, longevity and health traits. Analysis made based on the balanced DWP index still shows the top 25% of cows using 44% less antiobiotics for mastitis. DWP figures are only available on Jersey and Holstein bulls. Genetic gains can be made by just using the highest DWP bulls, but the greatest advance comes with genomic testing of females and exerting selection pressure on which females are bred from. Use of sexed semen can have a big effect in making more progress. Breeding for DWP not only reduces antibiotic use, but it is a selection tool that can have an important financial impact on a dairy by increasing lifetime milk production, milk per day of life, herdlife and expected profit per cow. Improvements can be expected in calf mortality, ketosis, displaced abomasums, milk fever and cystic ovaries.

Vaccination of calves for the reduction of the consumption of antibiotics

Poor biosecurity, animal regrouping or introduction of new animals to the herd might cause the appearance of previously unseen infectious diseases on the farm, therefore antibiotics sometimes are used to fight secondary or primary infectious agents. In order to reduce necessity of antibiotic use a well-organised prophylactic calf vaccination programme is advised. An effective vaccination protocol can be developed to fit most operations and management approaches.

Most vaccines that are used for calves are made to be injected into muscle or subcutaneously, therefore sterile syringes and needles must be used in order to reduce iatrogenic spread of diseases. Ensure that the vaccines are transported and stored properly (often refrigeration is required). Vaccine preparation needs to be done with clean hands, and strictly according to producer instructions. Read the instructions on the package to make sure the correct dosage is given. Ideally use 16-18 gauge x 1.5-3 cm long needles. If using an automatic vaccination gun make sure it is sterilised and clean. Check the gun is calibrated and working correctly. Subcutaneously (SQ) this injection goes between the skin and muscle, but not into the muscle. It is the preferred method for protecting meat quality. Always use this method if it is an option given on the label. Intramuscular (IM) injection goes directly into the muscle. To minimize damage to meat, use the muscles in front of the shoulder.

Be sure to record: Date of treatment; Name, lot number and serial number of the product used; Route of administration and give boosters when required. Check calf health status after vaccination and if any unusual side effects are observed please report to your veterinarian.

Internal Biosecurity on Pig Breeding Farms

Internal biosecurity is based on the measures implemented on a breeding farm with the purpose of reducing the chances of penetration/spread of already existing pathogens to animals or other sections of the facility.

The internal biosecurity plan of a pig breeding unit operates in four distinct sectors where the “all-in, all-out” principle must apply, general and specific hygiene rules must be followed and the spread of pathogens due to working staff must be prevented.

In the breeding sector, sows are prepared for artificial insemination within 4-6 days.

In the gestation sector, sows are accommodated in groups based on their gestation period until this reaches 114 days. Prior to the transfer, the pregnant females are dewormed and washed in order to prevent the spread of pathogens in the maternity ward.

In the maternity ward/sector, sows are housed individually in farrowing pens. In order to prevent the transfer of pathogens, the transfer of piglets from one pen to another is not recommended.

In the nursery sector, the transfer of piglets is completed around the age of 42 days and at a weight of 12-13 kg. Pigs are kept here until they reach an average weight of 25-30 kg. Each compartment of the nursery sector is simultaneously populated and depopulated.

Internal biosecurity measures are important for maintaining the health of the entire herd. They reduce the need for employing antibiotics and help lower the farm’s production costs.

HACCP based biosecurity plan for a laying hen farm

The biosecurity plan is an important part of health control measures to protect the flocks and individual hens against pathogens.
The biosecurity plan based on the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) principles offers the best assurance that commercial egg industry flocks are protected against serious disease outbreaks.
That is also the best way to ensure the food safety of the egg production.
The basic procedures of the biosecurity plan include both aspects related to laying hens’ welfare conditions, bird health and aspects related to the food safety.
Another major issue is the the prevention of emergency diseases, as follow : Newcastle Disease virus (the highly virulent strains), avian Influenza, infectious bursal disease, and Salmonella spp. infections (Salmonella enteritidis).

The critical monitoring points identified are:

1. Entry of chicks (at 15-16 weeks of age), equipment, vehicles, people and feed into pullet farms
2. Entry of adult fowls, equipment, vehicles, people and feed into egg production farms
3. The presence of wild bird and rodent faeces in sheds or where hens and pullets range
4. Water sanitation on farms using surface water
5. Disposal systems for dead birds, reject eggs, litter and manure from the farm
6. The presence of non-poultry bird species, other poultry and other animals on the farm

Biosecurity measures on poultry farms

Biosecurity is the major factor to have poultry health and a good poultry production and it is the most cost-effective means of disease control management .
Biosecurity is ensured on a poultry farm by implementing a set of organizational and technical measures in order to prevent the introduction, persistence and spread of pathogens, as well as in order to protect animal and public health.
The key objectives of a biosecurity plan for a poultry farm:

1. preventing the penetration of pathogens (exclusion of pathogens or external biosecurity)
2. reducing the penetration / spread of pathogens already existing among animals (biomanagement or internal biosecurity).
3. preventing the penetration / spread of pathogens existing in the farm to other non-infected farms / animals (e.g. biocontamination).
4. minimizing the incidence and spread of pathogens that impact the health of the population (zoonotic infections).

The biosecurity measures are as follows:

I. Defining biosecurity zone (the farm perimeter)
II. Functional sanitary filter for the employees, visitors, vehicles and all other entries
III. Visitor guidelines to be properly mentioned outside and inside the farm.
IV. Maintenance of the facilities used for housing, feeding and watering animals
V. Feed supply
VI. Transporting live animals to and from the farm
VII. Code of good practice and good hygiene practice (training of the employees)
VIII. Practice the technological principle “all full, all empty” at the hall level

Genomic selection

Genomic selection is a modern tool used in animal breeding, based on information from tens of thousands of markers associated with genes that influence animal production. The advantage of using the study of DNA or genetic markers is that it is possible to know if an animal has genes in its genome that influence the development of a certain characteristic important for the production or health of the animal. Thus, it is possible to obtain: a significant increase in the selection intensity and of the selection precision; significant decrease in the value of the intergenerational interval, doubling the genetic progress that can be achieved with each generation.

Genomic selection can help breeders identify individuals with higher breeding values as early as possible. Genomic selection or molecular marker-assisted selection also helps us to quickly eliminate pathogenic genes or those that negatively influence economically important traits from the population.

Selection assisted by molecular markers also has the advantage of facilitating the very rapid introduction of an important gene or group of genes into the genome of a population, a procedure called gene introgression in the population, achievable in a maximum of 2-3 generations. An example of the use of introgression may be the bringing of the gene responsible for resistance to certain diseases from a natural donor breed to a breed with very good production.

Vaccination of in-calf cows and housing practices against calf scour (Neonatal calf diarrhea)

Calf scour (Neonatal calf diarrhoea) is the most common cause of disease and death in calves during the pre-weaning period. Scour can be due to both infectious (e.g., viruses and bacteria) or non-infectious causes (such as poor nutrition). Symptoms are most often diarrhoea that might be green, yellow or grey in colour, weak animals, dehydrated animal (especially when very young) causing sunken-eyes, etc.

Good hygiene, colostrum provision and biosecurity are important for minimising the chances of an outbreak occurring, independent of the cause of scour. Calves are most at risk from infectious scour in the first 3-4 weeks of life and need a continuous source of protection. In collaboration with their herd veterinarians, farmers can vaccinate in-calf cows against calf diarrhoea a few weeks before calving, while increasing the quantities of colostrum given to the calves at birth. After doing this, cases of diarrhoea in the calves should usually drop.

In addition, it is important to segregate calves by age to prevent passing infectious agents from older calves to younger more vulnerable ones and to maintain clean, dry housing with good ventilation. For example, individual pens (which are easier to clean, transport and disinfect) could be used to rear these calves.

Vaccination: a way to reduce the consumption of antibiotics in poultry

The outbreaks of infectious diseases, especially infectious bronchitis, infectious bursitis, Newcastle disease, and others decreases the overall flock health, in some instances animals must be culled or it might increase the necessity to use antibiotics because of secondary bacterial infection activation. Vaccination is the most effective animal health intervention to prevent dangerous infectious disease outbreaks, decrease overall mortality, economic losses, and antibiotic consumption.

Vaccines in poultry can be applied via drinking water, food, spray, or injection. To ensure a vaccine will provide a desired effect, they have to be stored properly based on the manufacture’s recommendations.

If vaccines are administered via the drinking water line, the line has to be flushed in order to reduce bacterial biofilms and algae formation on its walls. In most cases, appropriate water/vaccine dilution has to be acquired based on the producer’s recommendations. When the correct vaccine dilution for a particular group is prepared, it can be added to an automatic dispenser which is connected to the drinking line. Ensure that the birds do drink the vaccine at the time specified in instruction. For vaccine application via spray attenuate (dilute) the vaccine according to producer or your veterinarian’s instructions and according to your herd needs. Place the prepared working solution in the nebulizer. To improve vaccine correct intake, adjust the droplet size to reach the target tissues. The vaccine should be sprayed systematically and evenly so that each chick receives its dose, but without causing undue stress to the chickens. Check broiler health status after vaccination.