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Related article » Herd Health ~ infection disease, health tests and vaccination programs for cattle
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a closed herd
Chart above from: Defining the basic needs for herd health
by Bret McNabb for Progressive Cattleman Published on 25 July 2016.

A closed herd is the ideal situation for herd health. But forming and maintaining a closed herd is difficult for most large ranches, let alone small homesteads. Closed herds must be large enough to produce their own replacement females. For bulls it uses mostly AI sires, and raises a few of its own cleanup bulls. For any size herd, developing a closed herd requires serious investment of time and money. Once achieved it becomes easier, although it still requires strict protocol and vigilance to maintain its closed herd status.

Homestead owners who buy cattle should assess their biosecurity risk and the potential impact of introducing disease--especially: Johne’s, BVD, Strep ag, Staph aureus, Mycoplasma mastitis, infectious foot diseases, Salmonella, and Neospora. Risk of introduction can be reduced by requesting a history of health status and management programs for specific diseases, buying from lower-risk sources, and using quarantine to initially isolate new animals--particularly from youngstock--and instituting recommended vaccination and prevention practices in the home herd. A small healthy herd can still be maintained with a reasonable level of biosecurity, utilizing practices similar to closed herds, but with more practical applications:

  1. Perform regular health testing & vaccination of the home herd.
  2. Biosecurity measures designed to keep infectious agents out of the herd include
    - Test purchase animals for carrier state - prior to purchase!
    - Quarantine purchased animals on arrival - for 60 days – with no nose to nose contact.
    - Administer vaccines, treat for internal and external parasites as needed - worms, flies, grubs, lice, coccidiosis
  3. Use CSS certified frozen semen or purchase virgin bulls.
  4. Buy cattle from a seller that employs similar high standards of biosecurity, requiring that replacement animals come from test-negative herds.

Quarantine: Quarantine for homestead biosecurity involves the isolation of new or returning cattle. Home quarantine prevents potential contamination spread from other animals. Quarantine premisis includes distance from all shared drinking water, drainage water sources, fields, facilities, pastures, tracks, paddocks, corrals or pens that are part of the quarantine area or isolation facility. It includes humans feeding with clean footwear & clothing not previously worn near other livestock, or tires of trucks that have driven through other herds of livestock.

Transport: To cross a state line or enter a showground, cattle first need a clean bill of health on a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI or "health certificate"), which is usually good for 30 days from date of issue. Cattle may not be issued a health permit if they live within 10 miles of a known infected ("reportable diseases"), biocontained quarantined herd.

The bottom line: Unfortunately, knowingly and unknowingly, cattle are sold every day that carry infectious disease. Some are untested carriers, some are known carriers culled at the auction, and some are healthy but newly exposed cattle (exposure can happen in 1 hour at a sale barn). Buyers of diseased cattle stand to lose $1000s of dollars, if they bring one home and put them in with their own healthy cattle. Depending upon what disease a herd comes down with, buyers may lose a calf crop, or the herd may need expensive, long term treatment, or in worst cases, the entire herd may need to be destroyed. To avoid such horrid loss and heartache, not to mention losing years of one's own breeding & selection, using a reasonable measure of biosecurity is well worth the investment.

go home little cow
go home little cow

sources include:
Progressive Cattle
Genetic Defects • www.eBEEF.org • 2014-9
publisher: Vintage Publishers
published online: March 2019
author: Donna Grace