Biosecurity is about keeping horses healthy. It includes the principles, actions, precautions, and protocols that we apply to help protect the health of all animals by preventing the transmission of disease through physical barriers and proper hygiene practices.
Prevention is the key! Putting preventive measures in place to keep our animals healthy has been a long-standing and successful practice on Alberta farms. Biosecurity planning helps to ensure that routine practices are beneficial to your animal’s health.
Best practices in disease prevention include a combination of following a vaccination schedule and taking preventive biosecurity measures while travelling, in attendance at events, and when caring for horses.
A few things that we can do to help prevent the spread of disease:
Optimize Resistance to Disease
Vaccinate. The first step to prevention is to keep your horse on a vaccination program that takes into account the horse’s job (pleasure, show, working, breeding, companion, etc.), general health status (age, history of illness, etc.), amount of travel, and location (some regions pose more risk of disease than others). This vaccination program should be discussed and implemented with your veterinarian.
Reduce Stress. Stress can compromise a horse’s immune systems and make them more susceptible to infection. Happy horses are more likely to be healthy horses. Comfortable, well-ventilated housing and frequent turnout offer the best possible options for your horses.
Optimize Nutrition. Good nutrition keeps your horse strong and healthy and ensures the horse has a better chance of fighting off possible infections. There are many nutrition resources available including our business listing of suppliers.
Practice Biosecurity. Use resources to determine what aspects of your horses’ daily lives put them at risk for disease and establish a plan for reducing those risks. Many boarding facilities have biosecurity practices in place.
Limit horse-to-horse and horse-to-human interaction. This one is easier said than done given the gregarious nature of the horse but is vital to horse health. Horses and humans can be carriers of the pathogens that cause disease. If you own a facility, establish groups of horses to reduce intermingling and encourage all humans to avoid interacting with multiple animals without disinfecting between contacts.
These preventive measures are simple but vital to maintaining the health of all horses regardless of their use.
Biosecurity Resources and Links
- Equine Biosecurity Principles and Best Practices
- National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity Standard for the Equine Sector
- Equine Code Awareness and Education Program
- Biosecurity for Horse Owners
- Biosecurity Risk Calculator
- Horse Events - Biosecurity Guidelines for Organizers and Competitors
- Don't bring anything home! Travelling Horse Checklist