Livestock health and 4-H learning go together for animal project youth
Riddle: What can transform into a rabbit shed, a pig barn entry, a livestock feed room and more?
Answer: The University of Minnesota’s Biosecure Entry and Education Trailer (BEET)
“Biosecurity is the steps you take to prevent and reduce the introduction and spread of disease,” says Abby Neu, University of Minnesota Extension livestock educator.
The BEET traveled more than 1,800 miles across Minnesota in June, bringing biosecurity education to 230 4-H livestock exhibitors at six locations in the state. The Extension livestock team set up the BEET as mock livestock spaces that looked and functioned differently depending on which group of 4-H’ers were visiting it.
It was all part of an educational program for 4-H beef, swine, rabbit and meat goat exhibitors during 4-H Livestock Day Camps. “We will also present the workshop for 4-H’ers in dairy projects at the State Fair and horse participants at the State Horse Show,” says Neu.
4-H’ers spent time in the BEET learning how to put on and remove barn-specific clothes and boots without bringing diseases in from the outside. They practiced biosecure ways to feed and water their animals, and also learned the importance of quarantining new or returning animals.
At the end of the day, each 4-H exhibitor received a “Biosecurity Starter Kit”, a five-gallon bucket which contained a bar of soap, a face mask, disposable gloves and boots, a pack of disinfectant wipes and a brush for scrubbing. In addition, the exhibitors received a flash drive bracelet which contained disease, disinfectant and biosecurity information for the four-species.
Extension livestock educators Neu, Sarah Schieck and Diane DeWitte collaborated with Joseph Rand, 4-H educator, and Sharon Davis, 4-H science of animals director, to develop species-specific biosecurity information.
93 percent of participants said that they now know how to write a biosecurity plan, and 91 percent say they could teach someone else about Biosecurity. While animal topics other than biosecurity were taught, biosecurity topics participants found most useful included learning about diseases, cleanliness, animal health and how to talk with veterinarians.
The 4-H Livestock Day Camps were hosted by University of Minnesota Extension 4-H with collaboration from Extension livestock team. Neu received an Extension Risk Management Education grant funded by USDA to fund biosecurity education at the day camps. The BEET unit was created through support by the University of Minnesota Rapid Agricultural Response Fund from the State of Minnesota. The BEET team also collaborated with Poultry And Livestock Supply (PALS) of Willmar, Minn., for acquisition, support and sponsorship of the biosecurity buckets and their contents.