What a bargain! The price looks great, but are you really getting a bargain? When buying livestock, there are a number of things you should consider before you make the commitment to purchase. Here are a few things to take a closer look at.
Even though a herd or flock looks healthy, they could potentially be carrying organisms that cause disease. If your current herd or flock has not been exposed to these diseases, you could very quickly have a disease outbreak that could make animals sick or even cause them to die. When animals are trucked to a new location, the traveling and new environment causes these animals to become stressed. This stress can then show up in the form of disease in the new animals or they may be more likely to shed the organisms that cause the disease at their new location.
Vaccination is a great way to prevent disease not only in the new animals, but also in your current herd or flock. Animals should be vaccinated when they are healthy and at least several weeks prior to moving to a new location. Be sure to follow the same vaccination protocol for the existing herd or flock and for the new animals.
There are a few other very simple things that livestock producers can do to prevent spreading diseases to their farm. Anytime a producer visits another barn he or she should be careful not to carry diseases home. Change footwear and clothing prior to entering your own barn. Be sure to disinfect any footwear that was worn in another barn prior to wearing in your own barn.
New animals should be isolated from their new herd or flock mates for three to four weeks after they arrive at their new location. Also, once new animals have arrived on your farm, be sure to feed them last so that diseases aren’t spread to the existing herd or flock by care takers.
Clean Truck or Trailer
Always haul new animals in a clean truck or trailer. Disease organisms can live in the bedding of dirty trucks or trailers and can possibly infect new animals. For further insurance, disinfect the tuck or trailer prior to hauling any other animals.
Where possible, test newly purchased animals two to four weeks prior to transporting them to their new home. Known disease carriers can then be removed before transporting the animals and their disease to your farm.
Once the new animals arrive, a very important task is to spend 5 to 10 minutes each time you feed just observing the animals. This will help identify any disease problems very quickly and before the disease spreads through the rest of the new acquired animals. Following these few simple tips can make purchasing new animals a good experience rather than a lasting nightmare.
(By Melanie Barkley, Penn State University Extension Educator)