Embracing Biosecurity In Replacing Your Herd
"Before you bring her home: thinking about biosecurity when purchasing herd replacements."
Dr. Mario A. Villarino
County Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources
The drought has caused many beef producers to seriously reduce their herd size. As we patiently wait for our weather to change and wait for the rain to come, we must be aware of the potential risks when purchasing herd replacements. Almost every ranch eventually must add new breeding animals to the operation. Some stocker or feedlot operations continuously add new cattle. These new cattle can bring disease to the ranch. Minimize this risk by: a) Defining the level of disease risk for the new cattle. For example, yearling virgin bulls from a purebred breeder with a strict health protocol may be low risk, while cows from an unknown source may be high risk, b) Isolating new animals from the rest of the herd for at least 3 weeks, and possibly at a location off the ranch, c) Watching the isolated animals closely for symptoms of illness, such as elevated temperature and abnormal behavior d) Consulting a local veterinarian to determine which diseases to test quarantined animals for and c) Vaccinating cattle according to ranch protocols. Remember, there are different between ranches and some have different diseases than those currently in Texas. Before you buy cattle, make sure you get familiar with the potential risk of purchasing cattle from that herd. Testing animals before you purchase them can be one of your best tools to avoid problems later on. For more information on cattle diseases or beef management please call the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443.