Effective management of animal groups ensures animals have appropriate social contact whilst minimising the risk of injuries and disease thereby reducing the need for antibiotic treatments.
When grouping animals, there should be adequate space to avoid overcrowding and animals should be regularly observed to identify early signs of illness or other problems. Ideally, stable groups should be maintained – mixing animals from different groups should be avoided and young animals should be kept separately from older animals. When moving animals, allow time to clean, disinfect, dry and rest enclosures to reduce pathogenic load before introducing the next group of animals. These principles are used in all-in/all-out farm systems but can also be applied to specific aspects of animal management – they are particularly worthwhile when rearing young animals which are more susceptible to infection due to their immature immune systems. Stockpersons should also consider their walking routes to ensure they move from young to older animals or change footwear and protective clothing when it is necessary to visit young animals after dealing with adult stock. Adhering to all-in/all-out production principles is an effective method to limit the spread of infectious diseases, reducing treatment and labour costs by maintaining healthy groups of animals.