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Recently, a herd of cows in Dane County, Wisconsin recently tested positive for bovine tuberculosis (TB) and has been quarantined. The herd will continue to be under quarantine while the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WI DATCP) traces all cattle that have entered and exited the herd in the last five years.

Wisconsin still maintains its TB-free status and WI DATCP is working to complete a timely and thorough investigation. This event provides a great opportunity to reiterate how important it is to practice proper biosecurity protocols.

A biosecurity plan should be in place for every farm, regardless of herd size or management protocols.  Having a biosecurity plan in place can help reduce the costs associated with antibiotic treatment, and the costs of decreased growth and production caused by disease outbreak.  If you don’t currently have a plan, a good place to start is by identifying risks, assessing probable routes of exposure, and characterizing and deciding how you will manage different farm-specific risks.

It’s good for farm employees and visitors to remember the basics when it comes to biosecurity. Make sure all visitors know where they can and can’t go on the dairy, wear clean clothes or coveralls, and wear disposable boot covers or wash all footwear upon entry and exit of any sites.

Vehicles can also be a source of contamination between farms, especially for bacteria like Salmonella. Keep this in mind and, when possible, have service trucks use a separate entrance on the farm, and avoid feed and rendering trucks from entering cattle pens.

Communication with service providers and employees is also a key piece of the biosecurity puzzle as well as keeping health records. Help your employees understand animal flow and biosecurity risks. If they understand why biosecurity is important, they’re more likely to get on-board with you.

To help understand bovine TB and the investigation, WI DATCP released two resources on bovine TB.  One is a biosecurity guidance sheet for service providers and the other is an informational sheet about the investigation for veterinarians.  Use these to help understand the current situation and help adjust your biosecurity plan as you see fit.

Rowntree is a calf and heifer specialist for Vita Plus

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