Horses Need Biosecurity, Too!

by Caitlyn Andrews April 08, 2016

Horses Need Biosecurity, Too!

When you think of farm biosecurity do you think of poultry farms? Maybe cattle farms? Or, maybe you aren't sure what biosecurity actually is. Well, biosecurity is important for the health of your livestock and horses need it, too!

What is Biosecurity?

Biosecurity is the prevention of disease-causing agents entering or leaving places where farm animals, such as horses, are present. Making sure your farm or stable is biosecure will help reduce the risk of your horses contracting infectious and contagious diseases. The good news is that biosecurity doesn't have to be complicated or expensive and can protect your horse against equine infectious diseases.

Biosecurity Tips to Keep Your Horse Safe

  1. Don't Share! If a horse has a contagious disease it can be passed on through shared equipment, such as water buckets, brushes, feed tubs, even shared tack (especially bits). If you buy used equipment for your horse its best to know where the equipment comes from and to disinfect before use. You can disinfect grooming equipment, stalls, tack, trailer tires, etc. with a commercial disinfectant like Virkon.
  2. Vaccinate for Prevention. A proper horse vaccination schedule can be very effective in preventing your horse from contracting a disease. Talk with your vet to see what vaccines and schedule are recommended in your area. Recommended vaccines can also vary by the age of your horse and where your horse is stabled or hauled.
  3. Practice Caution Around Other Horses. When you take your horse away from home for a show, trail riding, clinic or another event where other horses are present, it pays to be cautious. Make an effort to look out for horses that are sneezing, have nasal discharge, or just look 'under the weather'. You can't always spot a sick horse by just looking at it, but if you do see a horse that looks 'off' you can keep your horse away and possibly prevent disease transmission. Again, don't share your equipment. Loaning your bucket to an unknown horse could transfer a disease to your horse. If someone does end up borrowing equipment from you then be sure to clean and disinfect the equipment before using it for your horse again. Better safe than sorry!
  4. Traveling Horses. Following the prevention steps above will help keep your horse safe when traveling. If a new horse is brought to your stable, keep the new horse isolated for at least 30 days. Most infectious diseases will make themselves present in this amount of time. If you are somewhere like a boarding stable or training farm where horses are frequently moved in and out and isolation isn't possible, it's best to keep the 'higher risk', new horses together and separated from the permanent residents.
  5. General Care. Don't underestimate the importance of daily, regular care for your horse. Keeping your horse farm clean will help immensely with disease prevention. Making sure your horse has adequate nutrition, a good quality feed and access to clean, fresh water will help your horse's immune system stay in good shape. Regular vet check-ups, a good deworming program, and fly control will also ensure your horse is in good health and can use its natural immune system for disease prevention.

Caitlyn Andrews
Caitlyn Andrews


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