Merck Animal Health provides dairy producers with biosecurity training | TheFencePost.com

Merck Animal Health provides dairy producers with biosecurity training

-Merck Animal Health

MADISON, N.J. – Merck Animal Health announced the release of its newest Dairy Care 365 training module on biosecurity. This module introduces "bioawareism," a term that highlights the need for biosecurity, biocontainment and sanitation on farms — specifically dairies — and how these three areas of focus contribute to better animal health and well-being, and increased food safety. The module includes best practices and step-by-step instructions for designing a biosecurity plan, as well as a template for biosecurity standard operating procedures. This is the first of a two-part series featuring biosecurity expert Danelle Bickett-Weddle, D.V.M., Iowa State University.

While many dairy producers are beginning to take biosecurity plans more seriously, industry experts recognize the growing need to strengthen standards surrounding biosecurity. Results from a Dairy Cattle Management Practices Report (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2014) indicated that only 9.6 percent of operations quarantine new animals on arrival, revealing an area of vulnerability for disease exposure and outbreaks.

"Raising healthy animals and keeping them well is the No. 1 priority of dairy producers, so they want to do all they can to minimize the risk of disease," said Mike Bolton, D.V.M., technical services manager, Merck Animal Health. "We prioritized biosecurity as the next Dairy Care 365 module because of its potential to positively and significantly impact animal health and well-being, as well as the financial costs and handler burdens associated with fighting disease outbreaks. While no farm is exempt from disease pressure, there are steps we can implement to reduce the risk of a devastating epidemic."

As the associate director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Bickett-Weddle has developed biosecurity assessments for cattle operations and veterinary practices of all sizes in the United States and abroad.

"This training module will help producers and veterinarians identify potential threats to cattle health and guide them on implementing practical, easy-to-apply biosecurity practices, specific for their dairy," Bickett-Weddle said. "These are small steps that can add up to a significant decrease in the risk of introducing and spreading cattle disease in their herds."

KEY LEARNINGS

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One of the most important lesson points from the module focuses on how to conduct an assessment of an operation to identify potential biosecurity hazards, their potential impact and the likelihood of introduction. From the assessment, behavioral factors are introduced, including setting expectations for all animal handlers, designating vehicle access points and establishing the best place for cattle loading to reduce disease exposure. The module also touches on key processes and record keeping to help maintain critical information, such as the identification of all new and returning animals, pregnancy status, and vaccination and treatment history.

The training is offered in English and Spanish, and the 25-minute video module is followed with a brief quiz — to help ensure understanding of the material — and a certificate of completion to document training.

In addition to the new biosecurity module, other Dairy Care 365 training modules include: Newborn Care and Handling, Calf Handling and Stockmanship, Introduction to Dairy Stockmanship, Low-Stress Handling of Dairy Calves and Heifers, Moving Cows to the Parlor, Handling Non-Ambulatory Cows and Euthanasia.

To watch the Dairy Care 365 series, visit DairyCare365.com and click on Training. You can also contact a Merck Animal Health representative or email DairyCare365@merck.com for more information.

Dairy Care 365 training modules are designed to help dairy producers and veterinarians train employees to provide the best animal care at every stage of life. The modules are filmed on actual dairies and provide instruction using real on-farm settings situations to provide a realistic representation of animals, dairy workers and facilities.

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