BIOSECURITY: Horse health starts on the farm.
Biosecurity: Measures that prevent the introduction and spread of contagious diseases.
Biosecurity planning helps to ensure that practices routinely carried out on your farm are beneficial to the health of your horse(s). By adopting the guidelines below and working with a veterinarian you can play a significant role in keeping your horses and your industry as healthy as possible.
Manitoba Agriculture: Equine Biosecurity
Control movements of people, animals, equipment and vehicles;
- Into a designated zone,
- Out of a designated zone, and
- Between the designated zones.
This can be done through the use of controlled access points.
INTRODUCING NEW HORSES
Plan animal introductions, and structure their movement within the premises and their removal from the premises. This includes using management strategies such as:
- Permanently identifying all animals and keeping records for traceability,
- Testing animals before introduction,
- Following post arrival isolation procedures,
Practice animal identification and good record keeping. It is important to participate in traceability systems where available.
OBSERVE YOUR HORSES FOR SIGNS OF DISEASE
- Ensure workers are knowledgeable and experienced in recognizing signs of disease. They should be able to do this by observing horses’ behaviour, clinical signs, and feed and water consumption.
- Regular observation of your horses’ habits will make you more aware if a horse starts showing signs of being ‘off’ or unwell.
ESTABLISH RESPONSE PLANS FOR POTENTIAL DISEASE SITUATIONS
- Contact a veterinarian if you see symptoms of illness
- Work with your veterinarian to have a “disease response plan” in place for suspected cases of contagious or reportable diseases.
A disease response plan should include:
- Triggers for the response plan (for example, numerous horses showing signs of disease, a lack of response to routine treatments),
- Details of whom to contact,
- Plans for limiting movements of animals, people or vehicles on or off the premises, and
- Other measures determined by you and your veterinarian.
OTHER MEASURES FOR BIOSECURITY
- Plan and control manure management according to municipal and provincial regulations. Planning should include measures for collecting, storing, moving, and disposing of manure in ways that minimize the chance of spreading any disease organisms.
- Keep the premises, buildings, equipment and vehicles clean;
- Buildings, equipment and vehicles should be cleaned regularly to prevent the introduction of disease and pests. Consider applying disinfectants when practical.
- Maintain facilities in good repair;
- Keeping your building in good repair makes it easier to ensure that your biosecurity plan can be effectively implemented.
This may include:
- Buildings and fences to prevent wildlife and people from entering the premises,
- Clean and secure feed storage areas to prevent access by wildlife, vermin, (and horses)!
- Proper drainage to avoid standing and stagnant water
- Purchase quality feed and bedding from reliable sources.
- Ensure the water supply is free of contamination and readily available for your horses.
- Ensure a pest management program is in place to prevent the spread of disease.
Manitoba Agriculture has developed some excellent resources for biosecurity practices related to equines. The Animal Health Emergency Management Project (AHEM) also has good resources for horse owners and farmers.
Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs)
SOPs help ensure everyone who is using a facility and/or engaged in a horse's care is aware of the biosecurity standards. Below are sample SOPs you may customize to your equine facility and way of practicing effective biosecurity. SOPs can be used to start a documented biosecurity program to be reviewed by your veterinarian, facility users, horse owners, and service providers.
Several provincial departments are involved in the handling and management of livestock manure in Manitoba. Manitoba Conservation responsibilities include administering and enforcing the regulatory requirements related to manure management, while Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) is concerned with its economic aspects.
While this information is largely related to livestock rather than equines, some info may be of interest.
Horse Manure Composting Program
EIA Fact Sheet
As both the fly season and the show and trail riding season both swing into high gear, it is important to remind horse owners about the importance of annual testing for this disease – which is very contagious and eventually fatal. A culture of testing and quarantine is the only known way to prevent the disease from spreading, as there is no vaccine.
We also encourage you to visit the following CFIA web page on EIA statistics and resources:
Canada's control program for equine infectious anemia (EIA) has made significant progress in reducing the prevalence of the disease in Canada. However, despite the best efforts of the horse industry and governments, EIA continues to be detected in Western Canada, particularly in the northern parts of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as in Yukon.
Horse owners and owners of properties where horses co-mingle should take measures to protect their animals - particularly if they are purchasing or receiving animals from the areas mentioned above.
The CFIA, in collaboration with provinces, territories and horse industry, conducts surveillance for EIA through the national EIA Control Program. Under the program, horse owners voluntarily have their animals tested for the disease.
EIA is a reportable disease under the Health of Animals Regulations. This means that all suspected cases must be reported to the CFIA.