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Best Management Practices


  1. Identify key livestock health, consumer, and food safety issues affecting livestock production.
  2. Establish and implement preventative intervention strategies that will enhance animal health, welfare and environmental stewardship, public health, production and product quality.


A guide for use in identification of key farm management practices to prevent, eliminate or reduce the following hazards to acceptable leve

  1. Biological hazards - viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungal contaminants
    Infectious or contagious agents by evaluating and developing a farm plan to manage:
    • The risks for introduction
    • Risks for contact and spread within the herd
    • Evaluating and maximizing immunity – general and specific
    • Minimizing risk of export from the farm in product or wastes
  2. Chemical hazards - drug residues, pesticides, herbicides, feed additives, environmental toxicants
  3. Physical hazards - facilities/equipment/animal handling or treatment methods designed to minimize physical trauma and maximize animal comfort and welfare; includes stall or housing design, footing, traffic alleys and flow, and ventilation.

General Farm Biosecurity


  1. Goal: prevent or control introduction and spread of disease through purchase or movement of animals.
  2. Contact with non-resident animals creates a risk for disease introduction into the herd
  3. (Re) Entering livestock -  
    • Know the herd status of purchased animals. Purchase from low risk sources and/or if applicable test prior to purchase.
    • Upon entry, identify and segregate replacements from general farm population for 21-30 days. Utilize the time to manage, vaccinate, monitor for, and/or selectively test for control/program diseases.
    • Maintain vaccination program for incoming and resident animals
  4. Minimize non-resident animal contacts
    • Prevent fence line contact with other livestock
    • Control nonresident stray dogs and or cats
    • Free ranging wildlife including birds, waterfowl, and mammals - Conduct programs to limit direct livestock contact and access to feed storage, distribution equipment, and bunks and feeders. (Risks- Cryptosporidium parvum, Salmonella, Leptospirosis, Rabies).
    • Pest species such as rodents, starlings, pigeons. Institute a bird and rodent control program. Rodents serve as mechanical and biological vectors for several diseases such as Cryptosporidium parvum, Salmonellosis, and Leptospirosis.  
    • Insects/Parasites - Utilize integrated pest management for control of insect pests. Integrate parasite control program into land management plan.


  1. Protect against manure entry to the farm from vehicles and equipment, or runoff from neighboring animal premises.
  2. Avoid use of manure (products) and municipal waste from off premise (poultry, cattle, or other livestock) unless products are certified pathogen free.


  1. Equipment/ Vehicles should be maintained and cleaned to avoid biological (bacterial, viral, parasitic, or fungal), chemical, or physical hazards.
  2. Equipment is disinfected and cleaned between cows, groups and farms
    • Hoof Trimmers Vehicles/Equipment:  Ensure that equipment is cleaned and disinfected before it enters your farm. There should not be any left over organic material from a previous farm on equipment. (Risk - heel warts)
    • Off-farm vehicles
      • Minimize access only to necessary portions of the farm.
      • Insist on clean delivery vehicles
      • Livestock Transport Vehicles - Use only clean, well-bedded trucks to move cattle to avoid introducing diseases from manure on the truck and to avoid injuries during transport. Avoid commingling with other herds and livestock spp.  Risk = Salmonella, Johne’s and potentially (lower risk - BVD)
      • Rendering Trucks:  Do not allow on the farm proper, utilize peripheral holding pens for pickups.

Feed and Water

  1. Purchased feed may be a potential source of disease organisms and chemical contaminants
  2. Buy from sources using quality control to minimize risk of fecal or chemical contamination

Visitors: Use Proper Sanitation and Hygiene.

  1. Insist on clean footwear and clothing prior to entering farm or provide disposable boots and coveralls.
  2. Minimize access to only necessary portions of the farm.
  3. Use good hygiene to prevent movement of manure around the farm.  Provide boot brushes, disinfectant and boot wash areas or change disposable boots
  4. Start with young stock and move toward adults to prevent contamination of young stock areas with adult manure. Handle sick animals last if possible.
  5. Communication of farm biosecurity and biocontainment procedures to visitors is basic to their success.

On Farm – Best Management Practices

Personnel Training

Goal - well trained in animal care and handling and disease or residue prevention; farm goals communicated.   

  1. Farm Personnel - Communication is key to farm operation.
    • Trained personnel in standard operating procedures, use a good hygiene program, and have clear understanding of responsibilities and duties of their position.
    • Provide personnel with understanding of transmission factors for common livestock diseases and utilize practices that minimize exposure and transmission.
    • Livestock Handling - Maintain product quality (avoid bruising, downers, injection site reactions), reduce animal stress and emphasize welfare and cow comfort.

Vaccination Program

Goal - program designed to enhance immunity and meet farm goals for disease protection

  1. Recommendations regarding the type of vaccines and strategy best for each farm should be made by veterinarians working closely with each farm and designed to be biologically sound and to fit each farm’s specific needs.
  2. Follow Quality Assurance (QA) Guidelines for Injectable Animal Health Products (below)
    • Site - Use neck muscles
    • Use single use needles
    • Use products labeled for subcutaneous use whenever possible
  3. Buy from a reputable source using quality control (QC) procedures to appropriately store and ship vaccines within labeled shelf life.
  4. Vaccines are biological products which will deteriorate if improperly stored or handled
    • After purchase, store appropriately and use product according to label directions.
    • Store vaccines at recommended temperatures
    • Use vaccines before expiration date
    • Discard unused vaccine if using MLV product
    • Very important – use two doses of killed vaccine for any primary vaccine series according to label instructions.
  5. Keep vaccination records

Financial Resources

  1. Cost dollars - Effects level of implementation of best management practices.
  2. Profit Dollars - Utilize health status to promote and market product.

Manure and Manure Management

Goal - proper removal from facilities, containment and application. Prevent feed, water, and environmental contamination.   

  1. Manure serves as an important potential source of enteric pathogens.
  2. Manure also potentially serves as a source of excess nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) to the environment.
    • Protect feed & water from manure runoff
    • Use separate manure and feed handling equipment.
    • Ensure that cow, people or vehicular traffic does not carry manure into feeding or feed storage areas.
    • Avoid manure movement between adult livestock and young stock on the farm.  Animals, feed, boots, clothing and equipment should be clean and free of manure when moving from one group to another on the farm or across premises if the farm is physically located on more than one property.
    • Manure removal frequency must be sufficient to avoid accumulation on facilities or equipment.
    • Avoid manure spreading on fields used for fresh forage, pasture or hay.  Minimize potential for manure runoff to these areas.
    • Manure Equipment –
      • Do not use for feed dispensing.
      • Avoid moving manure across feed alleys and bunks. Maintain to ensure frequent manure removal and avoid buildup.
      • Maintain lagoons and storage tanks properly.
  3. Environmental Best Management Practices
    • Store manure and spread utilizing environmentally sound procedures.
      • Manure must not be spread near water courses or on hydrologically sensitive areas where the probability of runoff or subsurface flows is high. Hydrologically sensitive areas include coarse soils that allow for rapid leaching, sloping land, saturated land, or land subject to flooding.
      • Manure spreading must be scheduled to avoid high runoff conditions (heavy snowmelt, spring rain on frozen and saturated soils, heavy summer or fall rainstorms)
    • Minimize potential for manure runoff from barnyards, manure storage areas, or fields where manure spreading occurs to adjacent properties, and surface or ground water.
    • Gray Water - Dispose of in an environmentally sound manner. Ensure that potable water supply is not compromised.
    • Seal household and barnyard wells to prevent contamination of ground water

Feed, Water, Nutrition

Goal - good quality and free of chemical and biological contaminants

  1. Feed
    • Quality:  Ensure that feed is of high quality and free of disease agents, manure or chemical contamination.
      • Manufactured or purchased – purchase from reputable sources using quality control-based manufacturing processes
      • Home -raised feeds:  Monitor and control for feed contaminants, disease agents and nutritive value and quality. TMR, Hay, Haylage, corn silage, grains
    • Storage, Handling and delivery:
      • Provide adequate storage to reduce risk of contamination by manure, pests, rodents, birds, pets, chemicals, etc. and to insure retention of nutrients and quality.
  2. Water   Goal: good quality and free of chemical and biological contaminants
    • Restrict animal access to or use of surface water subject to fecal contamination from cattle, wild mammals, migratory birds or untreated human septic effluent.
    • Routine inspection and scheduled maintenance of the water system (delivery system and waterers) to ensure delivery of an adequate supply and prevent contamination by manure or chemicals.
    • Ensure supply of adequate quantity & quality of water. Check for microbial contamination, dissolved solids & other factors that may affect palatability & consumption.

Facilities and Environment

  1. Facilities - Goal - comfortable, well-lit, safe facility for animals and people
    • General hygiene - promote and provide for cleanliness of animals and personnel.
    • Adequate number of resting spaces, stall size adequate for size of animals in the group and designed to minimize trauma and maximize comfort and usage.
    • Alleys and flooring should be designed for safe and efficient animal movement.  Eliminate protruding objects to minimize trauma during movement. Flooring should be clean and provide good footing.
    • Animal feeding and watering equipment (Feed bunks, alleys, storage, etc.) - Sufficient feed and waterer space for animals. Construct to avoid manure contamination and injury. Maintain appropriate sanitation.
  2. Environment - well lit, well ventilated, adequate temperature and humidity control
    • Humidity - Correct problem areas, plumbing leaks and construction design flaws that contribute to moisture buildup.  Eliminate standing water and pools. Cattle drinking from manure or urine contaminated standing pools of water are at risk for several diseases.
    • Air Quality - Air exchange 3-4 times per hour, continuous output fans, vents properly placed.

Equipment and Conveyances

Goal: Minimize opportunity for transfer of disease:

  1. Prevent introduction of biological hazards (esp. manure) to the farm, or movement around or off the farm by equipment and vehicles and people.
  2. General Vehicle Maintenance - Sanitize to minimize infectious agent transfer between animals and groups. Periodic maintenance and inspection for areas that may represent a threat to animal or operator health and safety.
  3. Veterinary / Animal Health Equipment: (Risk - BLV, BVD, Anaplasmosis, Blue tongue virus, Heel Warts)
    • Ensure proper sanitation between animals. Take precautions to prevent blood borne spread of infectious agents on animal restraint, calving, dehorning, tattooing, ear tagging, and castration equipment.
    • Drugs/Vaccines Storage and Delivery Equipment - Avoid common use needles for quality assurance and disease control reasons.

Animal Health - Resident Livestock

Goal - Minimize contact between age groups to prevent spread of disease

  1. General BMP’s across all groups
    • Other Farm Species - Co-mingling various species presents a potential risk.  Consider disease agents of importance to several species and ramifications to each individual population. (Risks: enteric bacterial pathogens, Leptospirosis, less common - potential viral transmission among ruminants)
    • Pests and Pets - Pets (owned dogs and cats) and pests (rodents and birds) carry and transmit disease agents. Limit access to production animals, feed and facilities. (Risks: Leptospirosis, Salmonella spp, Campylobacter spp, Neospora, Cryptosporidium parvum, Toxoplasmosis, Giardia).
    • Sick cattle must be segregated from all age and production groups and handled separately and preferably after healthy cattle.
    • Entering cattle must be segregated from all age and production groups and handled separately.
    • Minimize opportunity for animal contact/ingestion of manure.
    • General considerations -facilities/equipment/animal handling methods designed to minimize physical trauma and maximize animal comfort and welfare; includes stall or housing design, footing, traffic alleys and flow, and ventilation.
    • Environment - well bedded, dry, clean, and free of manure; facility cleaned and bedding changed with appropriate frequency to prevent pathogen build-up
      • Housing/Facilities – Size of area sufficient to maintain comfort. Animal density not to exceed 10% over capacity.  Design should facilitate cleaning and manure removal.  Stalls comfortable, adequate size, clean and well bedded and appropriate design for animal comfort.
      • Animal appearance – clean and dry hides and udders
      • Adequate and clean feed and water provided to meet animals needs and to minimize nutritional stress.
  2. Maternity pen / Calving Area
    • single use calving areas are ideal otherwise cow density needs to match space available
    • hide and udder should be clean and free of manure.
    • used for calving only - no sick, lame or purchased cattle
    • calves removed or segregated from cows ASAP after birth
    • prevent calves from nursing especially if disease issues are present (Risks: Mycoplasma, Salmonella, Johne’s, Leukosis)
  3. Calf Rearing Area and Management
    • Reduce risk of contact with infectious agents
      • Isolation – Remove from maternity pen ASAP to temporary housing. Identify and move ASAP to permanent calf rearing facilities.
      • Housing Facilities - Calf raising facilities should be designed to be easily cleaned and sanitized, provided with good ventilation and should be located away from adult cattle and manure or runoff from adult cattle.
      • All in – All out housing for calves is ideal.
      • Preweaned calf rearing area must be thoroughly cleaned between calves and groups.
      • Prevent nose to nose contact.
      • Prevent manure movement from older to younger calves.
      • Handle youngest calves first.
      • Isolate and handle sick calves last.
    • Enhance Immunity
      • Maintain good nutritional plan and minimize stress. Use a biologically sound vaccination program to enhance immunity.
      • Colostrum Management - for all calves including market calves
      • Ensure that calves receive adequate quantity of high quality colostrum within hours of birth (10% of BW in 1st 24 hrs.)
      • Consider health status of donor cow in colostrum utilization.  Avoid pooled colostrum if disease issues present. (Risks - Mycoplasma, Salmonella, BVD, BLV, Johne’s Disease)
      • Nutrition - Ration designed to support maintenance and growth.  
      • Consider milk replacer vs. whole milk to address disease and residue issues.
      • Avoid Waste Milk for feeding calves unless pasteurized.  Waste Milk may contain antibiotic residues and may be high in somatic cell count.  High cell count milk is at greater risk for transmitting Salmonella, Johne’s, Mycoplasma, BLV, and BVDV when those infections are present in the herd.  
      • Antibiotic residues may cause bob veal calf carcass residues and potentially affect the microbial resistance patterns observed in calf enteric pathogens.
  4. Heifer Rearing Area
    • Group appropriately based on size/age. Minimal contact with adult cattle.
    • Housing facilities – adequate ventilation and control of humidity; clean between groups
    • Feed and Nutrition -
      • Due to manure contamination, leftover feed or sweepings from adult cows may be a risk for spreading diseases such as Johne’s and Salmonella.
      • Ration formulated to support growth and maintenance.
    • Immunity - Boost immune status using vaccines appropriate for herd health situation. Protect during high risk times around weaning and just prior to breeding.
  5. Dry Cows
    • Grouping - Move close up cows to prefresh group or maternity pen
    • Housing Facilities –   avoid overcrowding
      • Provide for cow comfort.  Cows in late gestation may require more lunge space and adequate footing.
    • Nutrition - Formulate feed to manage metabolic disturbances in preparation for freshening. Use low potassium forages.
    • Immunity - Boost immune status using vaccines appropriate for herd health situation.
  6. Prefresh group with or without bred heifers
    • Housing Facilities – Maintain appropriate space/cow.
      • Area should be closely monitored to prevent calving in this area.  
    • Nutrition - Transition ration formulated to minimize metabolic disturbances
  7. Lactating cows
    • Nutrition - Ensure production ration meets demands and is balanced and delivered to prevent acidosis and to maximize health.
    • Housing Facilities -   
      • Area sufficient to maintain cow comfort.  
      • Avoid overcrowding greater than 10%
    • Holding/Loafing Areas - Adequate space for number of animals present. Designed for cow comfort and to preclude injuries.
      • Udders and hide clean
      • See milk quality assurance below
  8. Bulls
    • Know source and test if appropriate prior to entry
    • Use only virgin bulls
    • Monitor fertility with breeding soundness exams
    • Ensure personnel safety
  9. Hospital, sick cow, or treated group
    • Maintain separate facilities for sick animals.
    • Do not co-mingle them with pre-fresh or calving cows or newborn calves.  
    • Minimize spread of disease from and within sick or treated cow area.  
    • Disinfect equipment between sick cows and before use on healthy cows.  
    • Maximize sanitation and minimize cow, human, and equipment movement from this area to healthy groups without sanitation.
    • Treated Animals - Avoid Drug Residues (see Quality Assurance section)
  10. Cull or Do Not Breed (DNB) group
    • Sale of Market Cattle - see QA for Dairy culls below
      • Cull Cows - Use production, health status, age, etc. in the decision process for prioritizing culls. Adhere to drug withholding times.
      • Calves - Make sure calves are stabilized to survive the trip to the market. Calves should receive colostrum and be at least 24 hours old.
    • Sale for replacement stock - Utilize production records and herd health records and status to enhance the value of replacement animals

Product Quality Assurance

  1. General Guidelines - Develop and maintain treatment Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's), records system, and withholding times to ensure product quality and avoid drug residues.
    • Treatment Sop’s - should be developed with the farm veterinarian and personnel should be trained in using the SOP.
    • Identify treated animals clearly to avoid residues
    • Treatment records should include identity of treated animals, drug used, amount, route of administration, meat and milk withholding times.  Site of administration of injectable products should also be recorded - see below for recommended sites and procedures.
  2. Quality Milk Production - Promote quality product. Enhance production (quantity).
    • Quality Milk - low bacteria and somatic cell count milk consistently produced with minimal variation:
      • Cow management to prevent or control contagious mastitis
      • Cow Environment to prevent and control environmental mastitis
      • Premilking process - foremilk examined; clean dry teats +/- premilking teat dip, individual towels to dry?
      • Milking procedures - no machine stripping, avoid overmilking
      • Post milking process - effective teat dipping
      • Milking equipment - clean and properly maintained
      • Milk storage and handling - appropriate refrigeration and cooling
      • Drug/Antibiotic residue avoidance
  3. Market or Non-Fed Beef Quality Assurance - Goal- Promote quality product. Minimize shrinkage and waste. Avoid drug and other chemical residues.
    • Carcass Quality Assurance BMP:
      • Develop and maintain treatment SOP's, records system, and withholding times to ensure product quality and avoid drug residues
      • Avoid injection site damage by using injectable health product BMP’s (see below) starting at birth through adulthood
      • Avoid damage from bruising by using animal housing, handling and transport BMP’s
      • Market nonfed cattle to improve carcass value before they become too fat or too heavy, too light, thinly muscled or emaciated.
      • Market non-fed cattle with physical or health related disorders in a timely manner to avoid condemnations
      • Encourage on farm euthanasia of disabled or nonambulatory cattle or cattle with advanced ocular neoplasia or other identified causes of condemnation
    • Residue Avoidance - drug treatment BMPs
      • ID and/or separate treated animals
      • keep treatment records including animal ID, product name, dose, route of administration, and recommended withdrawal time.
      • follow label directions for dosage and administration
      • use appropriate VCPR for use of extra-label drugs with appropriate extended withdrawal times
    • Avoid Damage from bruising
      • Minimize rough handling by training personnel in animal movement and handling
      • Inspect animal handling facilities and housing for sharp objects in traffic areas
      • Stall design adequate for size of cattle and provides appropriate surface and space for rising and resting; traffic areas provide non-slip
    • Avoid injection site reactions: Injectable Animal Health Product BMPs
      • Avoid injecting animals when their coats are wet or covered with manure or mud.
      • Use injectable products labeled for subcutaneous use.
      • Eliminate all intramuscular injections in the top butt and rounds to protect these higher priced cuts.  
      • The preferred sites for intramuscular injection include the large muscle masses of the shoulder and neck.
      • Highly irritating intramuscular injections should be avoided in the neck near the spinal column.   
      • Reduce volume of injection per site (no more than 10 cc per site) and maintain adequate separation of IM injection sites
      • Single use needles are highly recommended – especially for replacement heifers and cows to prevent spread of blood borne infections such as bovine leukosis virus (BLV), BVD, and anaplasmosis and Blue Tongue virus in endemic areas.
      • Multiple use needles (if used):
        • Avoid overusing needles when injecting groups of animals or use of old needles. Bacterial numbers increase rapidly with repeated use of needles.  
        • Needle points may develop burrs with multiple use which increase muscle damage.
        • Needles should not be used more than 3 to 5 times if used for more than one animal.
        • Use good sanitation techniques when withdrawing vaccines or medications from multidose bottles.  Only withdraw vaccine from the source bottle with sterile needles to avoid contaminating the remaining contents with dirt or manure.
  4. Cull Calf/Veal Quality Assurance Program Summary.  For complete guidelines see Veal Quality Assurance Program at
    • Dry, sanitary maternity pens. - dip navels - remove from calving area to dry, clean separate area asap
    • Provide high quality colostrum within 2 hrs of birth and 3x in the first 18 hrs.
    • Feed high quality milk replacer or milk to calves
    • Avoid use of antibiotic treated milk
    • Market calves only if they can walk unassisted, are not unsteady on their feet, and have a dry navel. Healthy calves are in good body condition, have clear eyes and alert ears, no signs of diarrhea or respiratory disease and resume a normal standing posture after standing and stretching.
    • If treatment must be used, use antibiotics with short or no withdrawal periods. Use injection BMP’s.
    • Transport safely and comfortably in appropriate vehicle with adequate ventilation, bedding, and protection.
    • Handle calves to minimize trauma - do not pull by limbs, ears, tails or necks, do not throw calves onto trucks.
    • Minimize time in the market channel. If possible, ship directly from farm to final destination.