Supporting sustainable small-scale animal agriculture through development of biological risk management educational materials

Progress report for ENC19-176

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $90,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2022
Grant Recipient: Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Renee Dewell, DVM, MS
Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine
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Project Information


Biological Risk Management (BRM) is a well-defined process of evaluating and reducing the risk of infectious disease entry and spread on a livestock operation. BRM is. BRM is a critical component of maintaining a healthy population of animals and is especially important for the sustainability of small-scale livestock operations (SSLO) because it decreases the risk of infectious disease, thus lessening morbidities and mortalities, reducing labor and stress associated with identifying sick animals, and decreasing use and cost of antimicrobials. BRM thus enhances profitability and contributes to a higher quality of life for the producer, their animals, the environment and the community. Many SSLO have little awareness of BRM and how to implement BRM practices on their operations. The proposed project will provide resources for agriculture extension professionals to use with SSLOs to recognize and reduce routes of disease entry and spread. Online educational resources for extension professionals to assess and mitigate biological risk on SSLO will be developed. Materials will cover biological risk identification, infectious disease risk reduction, and response to and management of infectious diseases in SSLO. Materials will include printable templates, handouts, and posters. A train-the-trainer session will be held for agriculture professionals who will disseminate the information to their producers. The SSLO will benefit from developing site- and species- specific BRM plans to reduce the risk of infectious disease entry and spread. Understanding and implementing important BRM concepts and tools supports long-term sustainability of the region’s SSLO by promoting both human and animal health and increased profitability.

Project Objectives:

Products of activities include:

  • Effective BRM educational materials developed by working with Advisory Group.
  • Partnership with ISUEO to share materials with NCR colleagues by communication through newsletters, emails, and on the ISUEO website.
  • Partnership with ISUEO Small Farm Sustainability to make developed materials available for small holder livestock operations in Iowa as well as nationally via communication from Extension personnel as well as website availability of resources.
  • An in-person train-the-trainer workshop at the Iowa Small Farm Sustainability Conference to prepare Extension personnel to use available resources in their regions. Conference materials will be available online through a series of recorded PowerPoint presentations. These materials will prepare the Extension personnel to discuss BRM topics as well as familiarize them with available resources to use when working with SSLO.
  • Creation of web-based educational materials and tools for Extension personnel to use with SSLO.
  • Supplemental resources designed for SSLO to use directly.
  • Two webinars for Extension Specialists to introduce them to the resources available to their constituents
  • Online resources for extension personnel and producers in the NCR as well as the nation

At least 80 people are expected to attend each BRM workshop at the Spring ISUEO Agriculture and Natural Resources Professional Development Day. ISUEO Small Farm Sustainability personnel will extend invitations to attend the conference workshops to approximately 120 NCR sustainability academic partners via email and printed invitation. Additionally, two webinars will be scheduled following the conclusion of the conferences to introduce extension personnel to the resources and train them in how to use them.

Extension personnel expected to participate include NCR extension specialists for swine, cattle (dairy and beef), poultry, small ruminants, equine, and extension veterinarians.

At least 1,000 people are expected to take advantage of the online learning opportunities and resources. The CFSPH website is a high visibility website, particularly for BRM, and has over 361,057 unique visitors each year. The  resources the team develops for SSLO will be well-advertised on the CFSPH homepage. ISUEO Small Farm Sustainability website receives approximately 5,000 unique visits per month and the course will also be advertised on this site. The ISUEO Small Farm Sustainability program will also advertise the course availability within the Acreage Living newsletter, which is sent to approximately 2,500 subscribers in rural Iowa.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Topic development and overview of review methodology

Educate Advisory Group members on reviewing methodology for project materials and obtain input on development of project topics


Conducted a webinar on December 16th, 2019 and January 16th, 2020 to share information on the project and to provide instruction on methodology for review of project materials. The webinar was lead by Drs. Glenda Dvorak and Rene'e Dewell and provided a combination of interactive and didactic learning opportunities with time for discussion and clarification. Webinar leaders asked for feedback from the participants regarding biosecurity implementation, diseases of concern, zoonotic diseases and infectious disease transmission, animal disease outbreaks on their operations, and interactions with extension personnel. Feedback about preferred and current learning methods for biosecurity topics was also requested and discussed.

Outcomes and impacts:

Advisory Group feedback was used to inform development of project educational materials including content and delivery format. Advisory Group members utilized the information project leadership presented to provide appropriate feedback following their review of two different sets of project materials. The materials submitted for Advisory Group review included preliminary project topics and content, checklists, handouts, PowerPoint, and a 3-part biosecurity overview. The reviews were used to refine and further improve materials.

Educational & Outreach Activities

31 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
1 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

5 Extension
3 Others
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.