Biosecurity in Alberta

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What is biosecurity | Why is biosecurity important | How are livestock diseases spread | Biosecurity is everyone's responsibility | When is biosecurity important | Pillars of biosecurity | Biosecurity in Alberta | The Growing Forward Biosecurity Program in Alberta | Biosecurity champions | Biosecurity champions newsletter | Biosecurity promotional products | Biosecurity protocols for producers | Available Biosecurity Resources | Useful links

What is Biosecurity?

Biosecurity refers to practices designed to prevent, reduce or eliminate the introduction and incidental spread of disease among livestock and poultry.

For example, diseases can easily be carried on boots or clothing contaminated by manure, saliva, respiratory and reproductive discharges. Some diseases are easily carried by farm visitors, while other diseases are only transmitted by animals.

Biosecurity practices minimize the risk of disease spread by identifying risks and developing intervention measures to minimize disease-causing agents from entering or leaving a farm.

Biosecurity minimizes the introduction and/or transmission of disease on a given farm, between farms and between species.

Why is Biosecurity Important?

Biosecurity practices can:

  • prevent the introduction and spread of disease
  • protect humans from zoonotic diseases (diseases found in animals that are transmissible to humans and vice versa)
  • be indicators of commitment to the health of livestock and poultry industries
  • provide confidence that risk managers are doing the 'right things'
  • elevate awareness of animal health and disease transmission
  • be used as a recovery tool if disease incursions occur
  • save money spent on disease recovery costs (diseases cost producers, industry, government and marketers hundreds of millions of dollars each year – simple biosecurity steps can be implemented to reduce such costs)

How Are Livestock and Poultry Diseases Spread?

Livestock diseases are typically spread by:

Direct contact

Indirect contact


Between healthy and infected animals or humans
(e.g. infected replacement or new stock, wildlife, humans carrying disease in their respiratory tract)

With contaminated elements
(e.g. vehicles, clothing,
boots, feed, rodents)

Carried through the air in
certain weather conditions

Biosecurity is Everyone’s Responsibility

All animal owners and types of livestock operations, livestock haulers, marketers, feed mills, processors, veterinarians, servicemen, inspectors and farm visitors (public) need to understand and adopt best practices in biosecurity. It is everyone's role to be informed about biosecurity. Before visiting a farm, ASK the owner / manager about the operation's specific biosecurity protocols. Biosecurity protocols will vary from farm to farm and between animal species, therefore, it is important to ask each and every time you visit a farm.

Click here for the biosecurity notes for people visiting farms
Click here for a sample checklist for farm visitors

When is biosecurity important?

Biosecurity is important at all times, though it is especially important when disease outbreaks are occurring nationally or internationally. Under these circumstances there is an elevated level of disease risk.

Today's global environment has the potential to spread diseases rapidly. Air travel has increased the number of people crossing borders on a daily basis and at any one time. In Alberta there are approximately 400 trucks hauling livestock and poultry.

Pillars of Biosecurity

Many livestock and poultry industries have developed or are in the process of developing industry specific biosecurity practices. All are based on three main pillars: managing access to farms; animal health management; and managing day-to-day production. Examples of each can include but are not limited to:

Biosecurity in Alberta

Biosecurity is a vital component of sustainable livestock and poultry production. Principles of biosecurity have become the foundation for animal health which has an associated relationship to food safety, control of zoonotic diseases and trade. Biosecurity practices are essential to maintaining market access and preventing the occurrence of Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) in Canada.

The Growing Forward Biosecurity Program in Alberta

The Animal Health Programs Section of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development manage the Growing Forward Biosecurity Program. This program provides funding to eligible applicants (industry associations, rural producers and farm service providers) to conduct education, awareness and training programs on biosecurity. Also provides funding for those proposals demonstrating significant improvements in biosecurity at the farm or service provider levels. To find more on biosecurity, or to apply to this program, please visit: or call 780- 644-3247.

Biosecurity Champions

Biosecurity Champions is a self-governing group promoting the principles and practices of biosecurity in Alberta. The group is comprised of producers, farm service representatives, academic and veterinary organizations directly or indirectly involved with animal agriculture and related industries.

Key activities performed by the Biosecurity Champions include: the sharing of information on industry specific biosecurity initiatives, the development and implementation of biosecurity promotional plans tailored to individual organizations and the distribution of promotional material on topics pertaining to biosecurity.

Biosecurity Champions Newsletter

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development publishes a bi-annual Biosecurity Champions newsletter highlighting current topics, key issues and developments pertaining to biosecurity in Alberta. Below are links to the most recent editions of the newsletter.

Biosecurity Promotional Products

Under the guidance of the Biosecurity Champions, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development has made available promotional material for producers and industry to assist in the implementation and education of biosecurity practices. Promotional items include: informational brochures, farm gate signs, visitor log books, note pads and pens.

Promotional material can be obtained by contacting ARD at 780-422-6630.

Poster - 11 x 17

Visitor Log Book - 8.5 x 11


Vertical metal entry sign - 12 x 24

Horizontal metal entry sign - 24 x 12

"People" 4 x 3 sticky note"Footprints" 4 x 3 sticky note"Small things" 4 x 3 sticky note

Biosecurity Protocols for Producers

All livestock and poultry producers should develop biosecurity plans tailored to their specific operation. Producers are encouraged to work with industry organizations, veterinarians, and other animal health professionals in developing their biosecurity plans. All farm staff and anyone living on the farm need to understand the importance of biosecurity and follow the biosecurity protocols. Key portions of biosecurity plans should be posted and visible. Plans need to be reviewed and updated regularly.

Examples of species specific biosecurity protocols can be found by clicking here.

Available Biosecurity Resources

Please click on the following brochures for a free download. Alternatively, you may also contact the Animal Health Branch at 780-422-6630.

Biosecurity for Overseas Travelers (78K)
Backyard Birds and Avian Influenza (87K)
Foot and Mouth Disease - Information for Producers (556KB)
Foot and Mouth Disease - Biosecurity Information for Agricultural Sector Travelers (522 KB)
Foot and Mouth Disease poster - 11 x 17 (554 KB)
ABVMA, AB Chicken Producers Biosecurity Brochure (725 KB)
ABVMA, AB Chicken Producers Biosecurity Poster (1027 KB)
ABVMA, AB Beef Producers Biosecurity Brochure (1597 KB)
ABVMA, AB Hatching Egg Producers Biosecurity Fact Sheet (452 KB)
ABVMA, AB Lamb, AB Bison Producers MCF Brochure (675 KB)
ABVMA, AB Hatching Egg Producers Parking Sign (265 KB)
ABVMA, AB Pork Producers Biosecurity Signage (480 KB)
ABVMA, AB Milk Johnes Disease Brochure (778 KB)

Useful Links

Office of the Chief Provincial Veternarian
Animal Health and Assurance Division
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (UK)
National Biosecurity Recource Centre (US)
Australian Government
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (Australian Government) (American Assoc of Swine Veterinarias)
Biosecurity New Zealand
Foot and Mouth Disease Information
The University of Vermont - Farm Assessment and Biosecurity Planning

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Ana Ulmer-Franco.
This document is maintained by Anamika Sharma.
This information published to the web on April 11, 2006.
Last Reviewed/Revised on July 13, 2017.