What is biosecurity? This word gets used a lot, but do you know what it means? Put simply, it is preventative actions to reduce the risk of infectious disease entering or leaving your yard.
What can you do to keep the horses on your yard safe from infectious and contagious disease?
- Know what is normal and healthy for your horse. Spotting illness quickly will allow prompt treatment by a Vet and reduce further spread.
- Any horses showing signs of illness should be isolated until Veterinary advice has been sought. Look out for snotty noses, coughs, enlarged lymph nodes, being off colour and new skin lesions.
- Take your horse’s temperature regularly. Normal is about 38oC. If this rises above 38.5oC, you should contact your Vet.
- Have a quarantine protocol for any new horses arriving – your Vet will be able to help you tailor this to your yard. New arrivals should ideally be kept isolated for 3 weeks before mixing with the herd.
- Put a vaccination and worm control programme in place. Keep routine health care up to date. Again, your Vet will be able to advise you on this.
- Always maintain excellent hygiene. Regular washing of hands, boots, clothes and equipment.
- Sharing of tack and equipment (e.g. mucking out tools, buckets and grooming kit) will increase the risk of spread of disease. If they need to be shared ensure they are cleaned and disinfected between horses. If they cannot be effectively cleaned and disinfected (e.g. sponges) do not share them!
- Remove bedding then clean and disinfect stables between horses.
- Ensure your boundaries are secure.
- Avoid nose- to – nose contact with horses over the fence, double fencing can prevent them reaching over.
- Keep your muck pile away from the stables or turn out.
- When using disinfectants ensure they are used at the appropriate dilution rate (read the label!).
- Communicate and co-operate with others (e.g. horse owners, neighbours, Vet, farrier, physio etc) in the event of a disease outbreak, to prevent further spread.
- Keep meticulous records so that any movements can be traced in the event of a disease outbreak.