Biosecurity in Alberta

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Why is biosecurity important | How are livestock diseases spread | Biosecurity is everyone's responsibility | When is biosecurity important | Pillars of biosecurity | Biosecurity champions | Biosecurity protocols for producers | Available Biosecurity Resources | Useful links

Biosecurity refers to practices designed to prevent, reduce or eliminate the introduction and incidental spread of diseases.

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

Why is Biosecurity Important?

Biosecurity is a vital component of sustainable livestock 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.

Biosecurity practices:

  • prevent the introduction and spread of disease
  • protect humans from zoonotic diseases (diseases found in animals that are transmissible to humans and vice versa)
  • demonstrate a commitment to animal health and food safety
  • elevate awareness of animal health and disease issues so these can be prevented and corrected
  • 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 risk of disease spread.

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.

Pillars of Biosecurity

Canadian livestock industries have developed industry specific biosecurity practices. All are based on three main pillars: access management; animal health management; and production management. Examples of each can include but are not limited to:

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.

For more information, contact 780-422-6630.

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.

National biosecurity standards for livestock producers and species specific biosecurity protocols can be found by clicking here.

Available Biosecurity Resources

Available material for producers and industry to assist in the implementation and education of biosecurity practices include: informational brochures, farm gate signs, and visitor log templates.

Biosecurity resources can be obtained by contacting 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 April 27, 2018.