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Manure management practices in dairy herds to control disease

April 23, 2024  by M. Charles Gould, Michigan State University Extension

Manure application will soon be in full swing across Michigan. This is a good time to reflect on biosecurity practices to prevent the spread of diseases found in manure, especially now that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been confirmed in dairy cattle in Michigan. It is known that infected cattle shed HPAI in milk. Other secretions such as saliva, respiratory droplets and feces are considered plausible sources of infection though have not yet been proven. These may serve as a source of virus for other cattle. At this time there are many unknowns, so farms and manure application firms should have in place or work to develop and implement a robust biosecurity plan. State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland, DVM, has stated that biosecurity is the best line of defense against spreading HPAI. From a manure management standpoint, implementing the following biosecurity practices will help protect your herd from contracting and spreading disease organisms.

Before Manure is Applied

Note the location of adjacent livestock farms, especially poultry, when applying manure to fields.  Contact those neighboring farms to allow them time to adjust their biosecurity protocols. Plan dedicated routes of travel when moving manure and communicate with those using similar routes for their farm’s manure application. If spreading infected manure, avoid roadways commonly used by other livestock operations and use fields away from main roadways and livestock areas. Plan ahead and have an open dialogue with neighboring livestock farms regarding disease status.




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