Objective—To characterize direct and indirect contacts among livestock operations in Colorado and Kansas.
Design—Cross-sectional quarterly survey.
Sample—532 livestock producers.
Procedures—Livestock producers in Colorado and Kansas were recruited by various means to participate in the survey, which was sent out via email or postal mail once quarterly (in March, June, September, and December) throughout 2011. Data were entered into an electronic record, and descriptive statistics were summarized.
Results—Large swine operations moving animals to other large swine operations had the highest outgoing direct contact rates (range, 5.9 to 24.53/quarter), followed by dairy operations moving cattle to auction or other dairy operations (range, 2.6 to 10.34/quarter). Incoming direct contact rates for most quarters were highest for large feedlots (range, 0 to 11.56/quarter) and dairies (range, 3.90 to 5.78/quarter). For large feedlots, mean total indirect contacts through feed trucks, livestock haulers, and manure haulers each exceeded 725 for the year. Dairy operations had a mean of 434.25 indirect contacts from milk trucks and 282.25 from manure haulers for the year.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—High direct contact rates detected among large swine operations may suggest a risk for direct disease transmission within the integrated swine system. Indirect contacts as well as incoming direct contacts may put large feedlots at substantial risk for disease introduction. These data can be useful for establishing and evaluating policy and biosecurity guidelines for livestock producers in the central United States. The results may be used to inform efforts to model transmission and control of infectious diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease in this region.