Katie Hennessy

Horses and Biosecurity

As a horse owner, the health and safety of your animals is of the utmost importance to you. Your veterinarian, farrier and feed supplier are key components in keeping your horses healthy. Another important aspect of taking care of large animals is biological risk management (BRM) or biosecurity. 


There are three main aspects of biosecurity. The first is isolation. When a new horse arrives at your property, they should be isolated for a minimum of 2 weeks. This time frame allows any potential illness to develop and be treated before other horses are infected. This is also true when one or more of your animals does fall ill, it becomes necessary to quarantine the sick to avoid spreading disease to the healthy horses. 


The second component of biosecurity is traffic control. This encompasses animals as well as humans. Basically, you want to limit the number of people or animals that your horse comes into contact with in order to prevent an undiagnosed illness from being transmitted. This is especially important in regards to horses or barn workers who are attending shows or other events, where they are coming in contact with a large number of unknown people and horses. Remember that vaccinations play a large role in allowing your horse to build immunity when contact is unavoidable.  


The third facet of biosecurity is sanitation. Cleanliness makes a big difference in limiting the spread of disease. Develop a sanitation routine for cleaning up manure, handling and storing feed, and disinfecting the equipment and people that come in contact with your animals. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!


We hope that these tips serve as useful reminders to use good health and safety protocols in your barn each and every day. Healthy horses should always be a priority!


This column is sponsored by Polk Equine.


BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine.  She completed an advanced internship at The Equine Medical Center of Ocala and is currently the owner and practicing veterinarian at Polk Equine.  Her expertise ranges from small and exotic creatures to large animals, specializing in equine medicine.

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