The Easiest Step to Improve Farm Performance

An infectious disease in the barn is devastating for farm performance

We all know that healthy animals perform better. An infectious disease in the barn often has an immediate and devastating effect on farm profitability. It’s not strange than, that when diseases spread and performance suffers, farm managers have the tendency to first look at short-term cures, i.e., antibiotics and feed. But when the infection returns round after round, these ‘cures’ are just covering up the underlying problem: insufficient biosecurity.

Focus on prevention rather than cure

The saying “prevention is better than cure” certainly holds true when it comes to disease management in livestock farming. When animals do not become infected with diseases, there is no need to provide a cure. However, that is easier said than done, as diseases can enter the barn via many different routes: drinking water, pests, flies, workers, tools, equipment, and new farm animals can all carry diseases into the barn.

All the prevention measures to keep diseases out of the barn are brought together in biosecurity programs. Biosecurity requires a multifactorial approach that aims to eliminate all internal and external risk factors from the farm, with measures that range from pest control to strict visitor protocols.

With an increasing number of diseases threatening the health of animals and with antimicrobial resistance on the rise, biosecurity is becoming a necessity to safeguard farm performance. However, because of its complexity, many livestock farmers don’t know where to start with implementing biosecurity. Yet it’s better to take a small step forward every day, than not take action at all.

Let’s take a look at hygiene, for example, one of the cornerstones of every effective biosecurity program and a preventive measure that every farm can start with today.

How improving hygiene increases performance

A clean and disinfected living environment significantly reduces germ pressure on animals. Lowering the germ pressure means that animals will have to spend significantly less energy on their immune system, leaving more energy available to be converted into growth and production.

“A clean barn will improve the turnover of your farm.”

Hygiene is changing behaviour

Practice shows us that hygiene measures often require a behavioural change in employees. Things like; washing your hands or showering before entering the stable, disinfecting footwear and farm tools, and properly cleaning the stable in between rounds, are not always present in normal routines. However, changing behaviour in an entire organization is often difficult, and there are entire studies focused on the subject. Larger farms specifically need to emphasize the importance of these protocols and the training of their employees to ensure hygiene measures are followed consistently. Every employee needs to become aware that their behaviour with regard to hygiene directly affects performance.

Starting small can have big effects. 

When we look at cleaning and disinfecting, it is important that stables are cleaned and disinfected consistently in between rounds. The aim is to reduce pathogen pressure and prevent the spread of a disease from a previous round to the new animals. Implementing a cleaning and disinfection protocol helps to ensure consistency between employees. For example, research confirms that using a foam detergent prior to disinfecting a surface is significantly more effective in lowering pathogen count per cm2 compared to cleaning without a detergent and then disinfecting.

Additionally, next to the effectiveness of detergents in reducing germ pressure, using a detergent is also far more efficient as it saves 30% cleaning time and reduces water usage by an equal 30%. At many farms, we observe that using a detergent is not standard practice. By simply implementing the use of a foam detergent as standard practice in every cleaning & disinfecting protocol, farms will see an immediate effect on overall farm profitability. A small change can lead to big improvements!

The easiest step you can take today to boost performance: improve the hygiene in your barn

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