Livestock Articles on Biosecurity and Hygiene

Certain kinds of molds in feedstuffs are a periodic problem to livestock producers, although many molds are quite beneficial to the well-being of man. Penicillin, soya sauce, and roquefort cheese are examples of products derived from beneficial molds. Therefore, all molds must not be considered undesirable, but rather should be judged on the basis of the individual mold and its habitat.

The spread of disease on a dairy operation can decrease milk production and reproductive efficiency, which costs dairy producers money. It can be challenging to limit movement of disease-causing organisms that can be transmitted through contaminated feed, equipment, infected animals, non-livestock, mortalities, and other routes. The least expensive and most successful way to control the spread of disease is to develop a biosecurity plan.

As a result of consumer concern about food safety, the association between animal and human health has become a prominent issue. A recent study published by Ramchandani and coworkers (2005) found that many of the Escherichia coli strains responsible for urinary tract infections in women can be traced back to E. coli strains from the intestinal tract of cattle. Even more significantly many of these organisms were found to be resistant to a variety of antibiotics, which often results in increased treatment cost and rehabilitation time. Until recently, researchers were only interested in the development of antibiotic resistance one antibiotic at a time. Today we know that it is much more common for antibiotic resistant bacteria to be resistant to two or more compounds. The discovery of gene cassettes or intregons that contain the genetic information for resistance to several different antibiotics or toxic compounds in both Gram(-) and Gram(+) bacteria has emphasized the need to re-evaluate our current understanding of the persistence of antibiotic resistance in a bacterial population.

We read and hear a great deal about biosecurity, but what it actually means in terms of changes we need to make in practical management is not always clear. Biosecurity refers to practices intended to make herds more secure against biologic risks, meaning contagious diseases.

Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites produced by fungi (molds). Secondary metabolites are chemicals produced by the fungus that are not essential for growth. Mycotoxins are chemically diverse, represent a variety of chemical families, and range in molecular weight from c. 200 to 500.