The Importance of Biosecurity in Protecting Farm Animals

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by Ernie Hardeman,
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Protecting farm animal health goes way beyond feeding our livestock healthy, nutritious feed and providing a clean, comfortable space for them to live. Taking care of farm animals also includes protecting them against illnesses that can inadvertently be brought onto the farm from an outside source when proper safety protocols are not followed.

Ontario’s farm and food businesses work hard to protect and care for their animals’ health and welfare through a series of best practices known as biosecurity. Biosecurity standards help prevent the introduction and spread of disease or pests on agricultural premises. These crucial practices, everywhere livestock are present, help keep our animals healthy and our food systems safe.

Certain illnesses can have devastating consequences to farm animals, the local economy and, in some cases, public health. If you visit a farm, you can – and should – do your part to help keep yourself, your family, and farm animals healthy. Here are some safety and biosecurity practices I encourage everyone to follow when visiting a farm:

  • Get permission from the farmer before entering a farm, particularly if you intend to go into a barn or other area where animals are housed.
  • Wear clean clothing and footwear or wear coveralls and shoe-covers in barns.
  • Wash your hands both before entering and after leaving the farm.
  • Minimize contact with animals and avoid touching animal feed and water supplies.
  • Always ask before feeding animals.
  • Do not bring any outside food or beverages into animal areas.

By not following all of these safety and biosecurity practices, you may unknowingly introduce illnesses and put those farm animals at risk for disease.

The health and welfare of farm animals is a shared responsibility among farmers, industry members, service providers, and the provincial and federal governments – and anyone who visits a farm.

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