Brooks (Rural Roots Canada) – Biosecurity is imperative when it comes to cattle herd health.

Blake Balog is a veterinarian and owner of Bow Valley Livestock Health in Brooks, Alberta.

He says there is no such thing as a ‘closed herd’ despite many ranchers’ claims that they have one.

“There is no one in North America for the most part unless you are a research herd that can’t say they haven’t brought in animals of one sort or another type,” Balog said.

He says the County of Newell in southern Alberta is a good example of its many grazing leases.

“They are the brothel of the prairies, there is no way there is such thing as a closed herd.”

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He says disease is always a potential, which means it is imperative to have a preventive plan to protect those critters.

Balog adds knowing where those animals came from is also important so that you can backtrack.

“Say you are buying a bull, and that bull, 3 years down the road, starts to wither away, he’s got, Johnes. I think you would want to know where the heck that bull came from so that you can trace back and figure out and tell that seed stock producer that maybe there is some Johnes consideration in their operation.”

Balog says that can help farmers in putting in place preventative on their operation.

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Record keeping is critical to herd health

Balog says record-keeping is critical in preventing disease spread in your herd, especially when making animal selection.

“You are not going to know that unless you have the basics of a tagging system or someway of just recording who has been treated, what they have been treated with, and how many times they have been treated with.”

Having these records can also help with your replacement strategy to ensure the herd’s health is in tip-top shape.

“They might all look pretty good, but if they have had some sort of treatment history in the background.

Balog uses the example that if a farmer has good records, they can track if a cow comes down with a disease like pneumonia.

He says the producer might want to dump her off because even if it survives, they may be more susceptible to catching it in the future.