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National Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard for the Goat Industry
1 Introduction

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1.1 What is biosecurity?

Biosecurity is a set of practices that are used to minimize the transmission of disease-causing organisms in animal populations, including their introduction, spread within the population, and release. Biosecurity is proactive and focuses on routine, day-to-day on-farm activities to protect the health of the herd.

1.2 Why is biosecurity important to the Canadian goat industry?

Animal health management has undergone significant change in recent years, influenced by:

  • greater understanding of the risk of new and emerging pathogens,
  • increased awareness of zoonoses and concern for public health,
  • changing epidemiology of disease, due to the concentration and commingling of animals and people in more intensive farming situations,
  • new production practices in agriculture, including farm specialization,
  • globalization, increasing movement of people and goods,
  • opportunities to sell to additional markets, both in Canada and internationally, and
  • more attention to traceability and the ability to identify product attributes and production conditions along supply chains.

As a result, using a proactive approach as the first line of defence in animal health is more important now than ever before. Livestock industries have therefore started to shift their focus to disease prevention and on-farm biosecurity.

The Canadian goat industry understands the need for a proactive approach; in fact, many producers have implemented proactive biosecurity practices on their farms and are working toward a consistent and systematic approach to address the risks in all goat production activities. Significant benefits, both to producers and the industry, can be achieved by increasing attention to on-farm biosecurity and its wide adoption in the goat industry in Canada. These benefits include the following:

  1. Enhanced disease risk management:
    • lower risk of infectious disease transmission to a herd from purchased animals;
    • reduced mortality and morbidity in the herd;
    • reduced risk of new diseases entering the national herd and then arriving at the farm;
    • reduced risk of exposure to zoonotic diseases by producers, and their workers, families, and visitors;
    • enhanced awareness, potentially resulting in improved access and availability of timely and effective methods to determine the disease status of a herd; and
    • improved disease testing and herd monitoring.
  2. Strengthened animal and herd health management:
    • improved animal health and welfare through consistent on-farm management practices;
    • reduced need for drug use, contributing to reduced risk of antimicrobial or anthelmintic resistance;
    • increased awareness of vaccines and their use as a tool in a proactive biosecurity program; and
    • increased attention to licensing of important animal health products (drugs and biologics) for goats, including lactating dairy goats.
  3. Operational gains:
    • increased profitability from improved productivity and reduced losses;
    • more reliable supply of high-quality goat products to Canadian marketers and retailers;
    • wider and more confident export markets;
    • improved food safety and increased consumer confidence in Canadian goat products; and
    • enhanced awareness of the importance of genetics, potentially resulting in greater access to and availability of genetics and an improved gene pool and genetic quality of the national herd.

Clearly, biosecurity is important not only for improving animal health on the farm, but also for strengthening the Canadian goat industry as a whole.

1.3 Developing the Standard

The Standard was developed through a partnership of the Canadian National Goat Federation (CNGF) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), in collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). An advisory committee made up of producers, along with representatives from regional and sector-specific goat industry organizations, colleges and universities, and the public sector, provided invaluable guidance throughout the process.

Prior to drafting the Standard, a literature review was completed to highlight the research that is currently available on biosecurity programs and practices in Canada, North America, and the major goat-producing regions of the world. Producer-level consultations were then carried out to identify the current state of implementation of biosecurity measures and best practices on goat farms in all production types across the country.

Section 3 of this document provides a Glossary of Terms. These terms are identified in bold on their first use within the document. Readers are advised to refer to the Glossary for any words that are unfamiliar, or for a definition that is unclear in the context in which it is used.

It is recognized that there are a number of challenges currently facing the goat industry, and these may impact a producer's decision to adopt recommended biosecurity measures into their biosecurity plan. These challenges are, for example, availability and access to accredited facilities and suppliers for artificial insemination and embryo transfer, accessibility of veterinary diagnostic laboratories, availability and reliability of certain disease testing protocols and access to drugs and vaccines licensed for use in goats.

The Biosecurity Planning Guide for Canadian Goat Producers has been developed, in addition to this National Biosecurity Standard, to assist goat producers in preparing biosecurity plans for their farming operations. The Planning Guide provides additional information, best practices, and examples that will enhance producers' understanding of the concepts and outcomes in the Standard and how they can be applied on goat farms across the country.

1.4 Purpose of the Standard

The Standard is a useful tool for goat producers when developing and implementing on-farm biosecurity plans. It contains a set of recommendations that can be adapted to the needs of each farm to raise its current level of biosecurity.

The Standard can also be used by producer organizations, veterinarians, service providers, and other stakeholders in the goat industry. Although producers are responsible for the biosecurity on their farms, everyone has a role in biosecurity and can help to achieve consistent industry-wide biosecurity. Appendix A Target audiences for the Standard provides additional information.

1.5 Developing a Biosecurity Plan

The National Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard for the Goat Industry identifies areas of the farm or farm practices for producers to consider when developing biosecurity plans for their goat operations. Identifying the possible risks of the introduction of infectious agents to the farm and the practical methods to limiting those risks is key to creating a biosecurity plan. Taking into account the farm facilities, the herd's disease status, an individual goat's health status and genetics, and the farm's production objectives and management strategies will also improve its value.

The information in section 2 of the Standard, along with additional resource information in the accompanying Planning Guide, will help producers build biosecurity plans to fit their farm operations. The Appendices also provide valuable information. Specifically, Appendix B outlines examples of modes of disease transmission, and Appendix C is a sample step-by-step guide for developing a biosecurity plan.

Consultation with a herd veterinarian Footnote 1 will assist with a risk assessment of the premises, in particular identifying the farm's diseases of concern, and in preparing plans for vaccination and other prophylactic treatments. Veterinarians can also offer help in developing and refining practices that fit the health status of each herd and that are effective in dealing with the farm's diseases of concern.

In some areas of Canada, it is recognized that there are a limited number of practising veterinarians who specialize in goat production and health. Additional resources in identifying the farm's risks and developing a farm's biosecurity plan may include, but are not limited to, the following: large animal veterinarian and veterinarians who have an interest in small ruminants, feed formulators, provincial specialists, university faculty, commodity associations, and other producers. Some information is also available from public sources, including libraries and provincial government websites.

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