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Guest Opinions

Biosecurity for Horse Farms

Written by Amy McLean

By Amy K. McLean, UW Equine Extension Specialist/Lecturer

We often think of biosecurity being associated with large-scale production agriculture, such as poultry or swine farms. However, the recent outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus-1 has increased concern among equine owners on how to protect their equine from becoming infected.

Whenever a new horse is brought onto a person’s property or you take your horse to an equine event, you run the risk of exposing your horse(s) to disease. The recent situation that occurred in Ogden, Utah is a reminder that we should always practice biosecurity measures when attending events and bringing in new equine. There are several measures that can be taken to reduce the spread of disease.

#1) Reduce horse-to-horse contact

For example, if stabling your horse over night or during a show, fair or rodeo, consider the placement of your horse and other horses. If possible, purchase or select an end stall to reduce the contact to possibly one horse, and consider purchasing an extra stall and use the extra stall as a buffer in between your horse and a neighboring horse

Other measures to take: Before placing your horse in the new stall
• Make sure all the old bedding has been removed
• Clean out all old manure
• Disinfect the surfaces of the walls to help reduce bacteria and viruses
• Consider booster vaccines at least a month prior to traveling but consult with your veterinarian first.

#2) Reducing measures of disease and bacteria at home
• Control mosquitoes, flies, and ticks (mosquitoes can carry EIA, ticks-Equine Piroplasmosis)
• Isolate new equine from the general population (have a quarantine area)
• Attempt to prevent rodent and bird infestations (droppings can carry deadly diseases, such as EPM)
• Never use the same needle or syringe on multiple horses

#3) Reducing diseases spread from people to horses
• Consider a foot bath for all visitors to walk through prior to entering your facility
• Ask visitors to wash/sanitize their hands prior to entering your facility
• Have visitors check in (so you can track those who visit and possible outbreaks)
• Clean tack often and don’t share tack among different horses, boarders, etc.
• Clean stalls, facilities often and disinfect on a regular basis

Hopefully, these tips will help keep you and your horse(s) safe this year. Best of all use common sense when bringing in a new equine or when traveling with your equine to events. Many veterinarians and equine experts will agree that one of the best ways to monitor disease in horses is to check your horse’s temperature, especially when traveling. Other things to consider are checking your horse’s feed and water intake as well as its overall behavior. For more information on controlling diseases, visit  extension.org/pages/Zoonotic_Diseases_Affecting_Horses_and_Humans.