News release: Joint biosecurity projects enhance livestock industry disease preparedness

Guelph ON, March 22, 2011 – Two new multi-species reports have identified biosecurity gaps in Ontario’s beef, veal, goat, sheep and rabbit sectors. The reports pin-pointed areas where farmers and supply chain partners can improve their processes, equipment or buildings to help prevent disease and keep losses to a minimum.

“There’s no question that animal health is a key priority for our farmers,” says project coordinator Jennifer O’Rourke of the Ontario Livestock Alliance. “Keeping our farms and our livestock disease-free is an important part of ensuring our producers and our industries are profitable, competitive and meeting the needs of the market.”

Although many biosecurity practices are already being used to some extent by industry participants, a number of gaps common across the five sectors were identified in the reports. This includes difficulties in being able to identify the health status of animals entering a herd or flock, lack of proper animal movement controls, improper handling and cleaning of manure, and lack of controls to minimize water and feed contamination. Implementing on-farm biosecurity strategies is a flexible approach that can work on farms of all sizes, species and production systems to help prevent or mitigate a disease outbreak.

“Many producers are already incorporating aspects of on-farm biosecurity into their operations, but our goal is to have solutions that are do-able and flexible to meet the needs of different producers and industry stakeholder groups,” says Dan Ferguson of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association and a member of the project steering committee.

The reports are the first step in a new, multi-phase project partnership between Ontario Cattlemen’s Association, Ontario Veal, Ontario Goat, Ontario Rabbit and Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency to identify, quantify and address biosecurity gaps and build the industry’s emergency preparedness capabilities. A joint approach was both practical and economically responsible as there are many common issues related to animal disease and biosecurity across these five livestock sectors.

“Working together was a great way for us to pool our resources, reduce duplication and ensure we’re using our funds wisely. These projects wouldn’t have happened if we were all working individually,” explains O’Rourke.

Work is now underway to examine on-farm implementation costs of improved biosecurity protocols and what savings that might represent to farmers. Funding for the project covering the beef, veal, sheep and goat sectors was provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Adaptation Programming and administered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council. The rabbit sector project was funded in part through Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of Growing Forward in Ontario.


For more information:
Jennifer Bullock, Project Manager, Ontario Livestock Alliance
Tel: 519-824-2942             Email:

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