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National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity User Guide for the Equine Sector
Section 10: Farm and facility location, design, layout and renovations to existing facilities

Goal Good planning and assessment of your farm or facility from a biosecurity perspective can help reduce the risk of the spread of disease or introduction of disease to your property. A diagram of the farm or facility layout can be helpful to assess the high and low risk areas, including the traffic flow, visitor areas, manure management and fencing needs for pathways, as well as prevailing winds and water run-off.


Biosecurity principles should be included when designing or re-designing the property layout and environment. Often small changes may be implemented that can have a positive impact. Priority areas for the design and layout of a facility include: geography, topography, and traffic flow with end use in mind. For information on sound management and welfare practices of horse housing and care refer to the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines.

10.1 Geography

The overall geography of the area and of the facility should be assessed from the point of view of limiting the spread of disease and minimizing its introduction to the facility. Constructing new facilities in areas that are less densely populated with horses and livestock can reduce the risk of exposure to pathogens. Assess needs and balance benefits relative to access to veterinary services, feed suppliers, and other equine event complexes that may be located in the surrounding area.

Checklist of biosecurity considerations
Considerations and best practices Notes
New Facilities – Construct a sufficient distance from other equine facilities, event complexes, commingling facilities or livestock facilities so as to minimize the airborne transmission of infectious diseases.
Acquire knowledge of surrounding industries prior to building a facility to minimize the impact from potential sources of contamination and hazards (biological, chemical, physical).
Determine the proximity to equine veterinary clinics, event, and commingling locations so as to minimize transport stress and/or exposure to other animals.
Obtain information of identified regional diseases and their modes of transmission.

10.2 Topography

Incorporate natural surface features (topography) in the design of the site. This may influence the overall use of the property, location of buildings, turnout areas, pastures and other necessary infrastructure of your farm or facility. The slope and type of soil will affect drainage, ease and cost of grading and building, pasture quality and footing for horses. Trees and hills can provide protection from sun, wind, and inclement weather and affect airflow in barns. Ponds and streams may reduce useable area, attract wildlife and pests and affect drainage.

Checklist of biosecurity considerations
Considerations and best practices Notes
Select a location that is slightly elevated, provides adequate drainage and suitable ground cover for pasture and a base for stables.
Determine if there are areas where standing water can accumulate and assess ways to minimize this risk.
Determine if measures will be necessary to prevent water run-off that would cause flooding of barns, farms and facilities.
Consider risks of disease if the paddocks or turn out areas run through wooded areas that may contain tick species that harbour pathogens such as Borrelia burgdorferi (the cause of Lyme disease).
Assess the area to ensure there is sufficient space for manure storage and/or composting. Placement needs to allow separation from the barn and feed storage but still be accessible for daily cleaning out of manure, soiled bedding and feed as well as consideration for access by vehicles and large equipment for removal of manure and/or compost.

10.3 Layout

The layout of the site affects the ease and efficiency of day to day operations and the ability to implement effective biosecurity practices. The layout must account for the intended number of horses and allow for expansion as needed. Being able to separate horses from different peer and risk groups is important, as is the ability to minimize contamination of housing, feed, water and bedding.

Checklist of biosecurity considerations
Considerations and best practices Notes
Locate the manure storage area to prevent leeching or run off into horse housing areas, ditches, water sources, and surface water reservoirs such as creeks, ponds, rivers and lakes.
Ensure all access points to the barn are secure and visible.
Minimize possible nose-to-nose contact over fences (for example, double fencing, see figure 10), particularly in high-risk zones.
Ensure the farm or facility layout is designed to allow for the separation of peer and risk groups.
Locate horse loading and unloading areas in an area to minimize vehicle traffic onsite.

10.4 Traffic flow

The uncontrolled movement of people, horses, equipment and materials on a farm or facility can quickly and easily spread pathogens. Identifying and planning traffic flows can reduce this risk.

Checklist of biosecurity considerations
Considerations and best practices Notes
Assess pathways for the movement of vehicles, supplies and horses. If possible, design the layout to minimize contact among horses. Designate parking areas (and post signage) for suppliers, veterinarians, farm workers, and visitors to help to reduce spread of disease.
Consult first responders to ensure facility design is suitable for access in emergency situations.
Control and manage access to your property including but not limited to visitors, horses, other livestock, pets and wildlife.
Post highly visible biosecurity signage.
Ensure that the service providers (for example, utility providers, feed deliveries, veterinarians, and farriers) have dedicated places to park that are in low-traffic areas.
Manage the separation of horses and people involved in different horse disciplines (for example, facilities that run riding schools should keep foot traffic and school horses separate from show and/or other client horses).
House horses assigned to one trainer together and separate from those of another trainer or discipline.
Designate a trailer parking area.

10.5 Design of new physical structures or renovation to an existing physical structure

There are many types of structures that are used to house horses, including structures that that were designed for other livestock (for example, renovated cow barns). The structure needs to be assessed from the position of equine biosecurity, as the needs of other species may be very different than those required for horses. The following are best practices in the design of a new facility or renovating an existing structure to support the implementation of equine biosecurity.

Checklist of biosecurity considerations
Considerations and best practices Notes
When repairing or enlarging the facility, select building materials that are smooth, non-porous, durable and easy to clean and disinfect (for example, metal, sealed concrete and some plastics). This is especially important for exposed surfaces that horses will have frequent contacts with such as walls, dividers, stall surfaces and floors.
Seal wooden surfaces (such as fences, barn and building walls) with multiple coats of a non-toxic marine grade enamel paint or urethane to provide a surface that can be more easily cleaned and disinfected. Avoid sealing surfaces that horses may chew or ingest.
Select building materials that will not shatter or splinter when kicked by horses.
Ensure there are a sufficient number of taps and sinks for cleaning and hand washing. Install hand sanitation stations for visitors and staff and post notices on acceptable procedures (for example, written protocols for cleaning and disinfection).
Ensure there is adequate subsurface drainage to remove waste water and storm water from within and around barns, buildings and paddocks.
Develop a transition area – A location where all persons can change footwear and clothing before entering horse housing areas especially in areas where they may pose higher biosecurity risks.
Install window screens to keep flies and mosquitoes out of barns and regularly inspect for pest infestation and areas that may encourage breeding of pests (for example, standing water or piles of material or debris).
Ensure there is a stall and a pasture for the separation of a new or sick horse that keeps the horse and its equipment separate from the resident horses.
Ensure that water bowls, mangers, feeders and buckets can be regularly cleaned and/or disinfected.
Use non-slip flooring.
Ensure lighting is available that is appropriate to the needs and out of reach of horses.
Ensure air circulation is sufficient throughout the horse housing areas to provide a supply of fresh air and minimize dust, odour and humidity.
Ensure temperature within the housing areas can be managed for comfort and to prevent moisture buildup in enclosed areas.
Ideally, store straw and hay in a separate building or away from the horses with only a 2-3 day supply being brought into the barn/stable area.
Ensure stalls are large enough to accommodate a horse lying down and provide ample head room and space to easily get to their feet (adequate lunge space). It is also important to consider possible dead stock management and access for removal when this becomes necessary. Refer to the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines.
Construct and employ fencing and gates to maintain optimal separation between animals (for example, while at pasture, in transit to barns, or between vehicles and animals).
Separated paddocks for new, injured or sick horses can be set up (permanently or temporarily) with defined and separate access.
Use fencing to keep horses out of creeks and ponds and to prevent access to other high risk areas.
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