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Improving biosecurity farm by farm

After the 2015 outbreak of avian influenza and 2013 outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus led to animal losses in the millions, University of Minnesota Extension educators hit the road to teach farmers and farm workers about the proper protocol involved in keeping diseases from spreading. Part of Extension’s mobile effort is the University of Minnesota Biosecure Entry Education Trailer (BEET), which was made possible by the state’s Rapid Agricultural Response Fund.

The trailer had one of its busiest years in 2017, reaching an estimated 179,000 people at large and small events. Extension poultry educator Abby Neu reports the trailer is a powerful demonstration tool for common sense, easy-to-implement procedures that can help safeguard a farm from future disease outbreaks. The fact that it can travel just about anywhere is a reason for its success.

The trailer is used by Extension’s poultry and swine teams, including Neu and Sarah Schieck, Extension swine educator. They work with producers, state officials, feed haulers and 4-H members to better understand how diseases spread. “It’s everyone’s job in the industry to think about biosecurity,” says Schieck.

Abby Neu, Extension poultry educator, demonstrated biosecurity using
GLO germ inside the Biosecure Entry Education Trailer (BEET)
Neu says the trailer helps the team explain the principles of Danish Entry, an entry protocol for farms that emphasizes separation between the outside and the inside of the barn housing animals.

Rob Orsten raises turkeys near Willmar. “Biosecurity is probably everything—it’s vital,” he says. “Biosecurity education has to be ongoing and constant.”

A key feature of the trailer is a bench—a line of separation—that focuses attention on the importance of changing out of possibly contaminated clothing and footwear, removing personal items, and proper hand washing before stepping into areas where birds live. “Having the bench, this physical barrier, makes people slow down and think about their mental checklist,” says Neu.

“Birds are very susceptible to every little thing that enters the barn,” says Orsten. “The greatest biosecurity program is as weak as a barn worker’s next step.”

Visit Biosecurity for poultry for more information.

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