How you can reduce biosecurity risks in 4-H projects: Part 2

Biosecurity related to 4-H projects is a matter of high priority. Taking simple precautions will protect animals, members and consumers.

A picture of a boy shaking out straw in a pen. The words 4-H project biosecurity tip: keep animal pens and wash racks clean and dry.

As mentioned in Part 1 of this series by Michigan State University Extension, national and state agencies have identified biosecurity related to animal agriculture as a high priority. The United States Department of Agriculture has a long-term goal of safeguarding the animal production industry from accidental outbreaks of animal disease. Disease control and surveillance and food system security are high priorities in ensuring that people and animals are protected.

By paying attention to their management, both on their own farms and during exhibition, 4-H animal exhibitors can do their part to help safeguard the animal production industry. This article will continue to provide an overview of current 4-H animal project trends, animal housing, animal pens, wash racks, judging areas and visitor interactions to explore the potential risks and how those risks can be reduced. This article will focus on animal barns, pens and wash racks.

Animal barns at exhibits should have numerous hand washing stations, instructions for proper washing of hands. Visitors to the barn should be encouraged to wash their hands upon entering the barn and then again upon exiting the barn in order to reduce the risk of spreading diseases from barn to barn.

Animal pens are also a potential risk to biosecurity. A low-risk pen should exhibit the following qualities:

  • The bedding is clean and dry
  • Tools are clean and not shared among animals from different farms
  • All feed is fresh and clean
  • All water is clean and properly contained
  • No visible signs of insects or rodents

A high-risk pen exhibits the following qualities:

  • The bedding is foul smelling and wet
  • Tools are dirty and shared among animals from different farms
  • Feed is moldy, soiled and in contact with fecal matter
  • Water is contaminated with dirt, bedding, fecal matter, etc.
  • There are many visible signs of insects or rodents

The contrast between risk levels is significant in animal pens. 4-H members should do their best to reduce biosecurity risks by providing a low risk environment for their animals.

Wash racks are also an area where little attention might be paid to the amount of biosecurity risk. A low-risk should have no standing water and no animal waste present. A high-risk wash rack has a significant amount of standing water present and a significant amount of various animal wastes present. 4-H members can do their part to keep wash racks low risk by cleaning up their animals waste and ensuring that drains in the wash rack are not covered and water is directed into the drains before they leave the wash rack area.

The next article in this series will focus on the biosecurity risks of the judging area. Also look for:

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