I cannot stress this subject enough. Quarantining animals will save lives, save you money long term, and could possibly even save your farm or homestead. I’ve seen too many people go buy animals from someone and immediately introduce them to the other animals on their farm. This is such an incredibly bad idea. Even if you’ve purchased animals from a reputable source, there is still a chance that those new animals could be sick and could introduce any number of contagious illnesses or parasites that could devastate your livestock.
Just because you have bought animals and released them onto your farm with your other animals before, does not mean that it would be far fetched for you to experience an outbreak at some point. There are so many things that could go wrong by carelessly or unknowingly exposing your animals to something that could potentially wipe out every single animal susceptible to that strain of virus/bacteria, et cetera. So just, consider protecting yourself and your animals. Can you even imagine how devastating it would be to have all of your animals die within weeks and there be nothing you can do about it? You’d possibly have start over from scratch.
I’m not bringing this to light to scare anyone. But honestly, I don’t see enough people talking about this regularly. Even googling it, I had to look around a little bit more than I normally might to get the information I was looking for.
So some of you may have seen Nat Geo’s show, Shear Madness. I really loved this program, and so while it was sad it was canceled, I got to find out about Natalie and be inspired by what a force of nature she is and how empowering it was to watch her do what I want to. So now I follow her on Facebook as well as YouTube ( Natalie’s Youtube Channel )
Episode one of Season one just shows how quickly it can happen that you have a possible quarantine issue. One phone call. She was informed that someone who had also purchased livestock from the same breeder she used, that those sheep had just tested positive for Ovine Progressive Pneumonia (O.P.P.) which is a retrovirus. (Read the Full O.P.P Description )
Now, she had kept those animals in quarantine and had released some of them into her flock. But at that point, it could very well be too late. She could have just killed her entire flock. If you read about the disease in the link I posted, you’ll see how absolutely horrifying that would be. And if you want to know what happens to Natalie and her flock, you can check the episodes out on Amazon. Such a great show
That all being said, no matter if you have goats, sheep, pigs or fowl, you need to set up quarantine stations! These stations need to be away from all other animals. Whatever tools and supplies are in that area need to be for quarantine only. You don’t want to spread disease so this needs to be a very clean area. When you’re done using it, you will want to sanitize it thoroughly.
So, if you know that you are going to be buying multiple animals from multiple people at the same time, it is going to be important to have multiple quarantine pens. Because if Animal A comes from farm A, and Animal B comes from farm B and you put them in the same pen, Animal A could get Animal B sick. So that is truly something to consider. Your quarantine pens don’t have to be expensive either. There are tons of options for a cheap but reliable set up. You just want to make sure that those animals couldn’t break free or get loose.
There are still preventative measures you can take to lessen the chance of bringing illness onto your farm or homestead. Before you purchase animals and bring them onto your farm, careful examination of animals is needed. A visual inspection is a good place to start. Typically you won’t be buying a sick animal. Most people won’t sell you one, but before you go to purchase an animal, do your best to know what to look for. Lethargy, runny noses, eye gunk, et cetera, all stuff you don’t want. Don’t buy an animal that’s sick!
What I’d really recommend is having your veterinarian contact the breeder’s veterinarian to get information regarding overall herd health. A reputable seller of livestock should have a vet who at least occasionally works with the animals on the farm. I would probably consider it a red flag if the seller does not use any kind of veterinary services ever. (This is likely less true with poultry and fowl.) What you really are looking for the status determine the vaccination and health status not just of the individuals you are buying, but also of the herd of origin.
Here is a site I found that had some pretty good quarantine protocols. University of Vermont: Animal Biosecurity. I would love to outline it here, but I feel as though I’ve already been talking for quite some time! Finally, I would just say use common sense and precaution and you will minimize the chances of losing any animals to disease. Thanks for reading! I’m sure that I’ll be posting more on this matter later, but if you have questions, I’ll do my best to help you find an answer!