Ranch Musings: COVID-19 and ranching

Columnist David Zirnhelt passes on resources for ranchers

David Zirnhelt

Observer Contributor

Out of respect for the seriousness of the current crisis, I am passing on some of the latest relevant references for people in the livestock industry and small operations, holding livestock.

This first link contains information on pets, food banks and food businesses: bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19

A second reference is put up by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture: cfa-fca.ca/resources/resources-on-covid-19/

These are both good to continue to refer to.

Here is a quotation from one of these sites:

“Special notes for those who work with farm animals: While a recent study suggests that the virus that causes COVID-19 may have the potential to infect some types of animals, similar to what is known for SARS-CoV, there is currently no evidence that other domestic animals can be infected with COVID-19 virus or can be a source of infection to people. There are still many unknowns about this newly emerged coronavirus, and this is an area that remains to be studied and understood.

Those handling live animals and animal products should practise good personal hygiene, including frequent hand washing after touching animals and animal products. They should consider wearing protective gowns, gloves, masks while professionally handling animals and fresh animal products. Equipment and working stations should be disinfected frequently, at least once a day.

Protective clothing should be removed after work and washed daily. Workers should avoid exposing family members to soiled work clothing, shoes or other items that may have come into contact with potentially contaminated material. It is therefore recommended that protective clothes and items remain at the workplace for daily washing.”

When it comes to small animals, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association in this referenced document (WSAVA Scientific and One Health Committees ADVISORY DOCUMENT: UPDATED AS OF MARCH 20, 2020) provides the following advice:

“Currently, there is limited evidence that pets can be infected with SARS-Cov-2. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, until we know more, pet owners should avoid contact with animals, they are unfamiliar with and always wash their hands before and after they interact with animals. If owners are sick with COVID-19, they should try to limit the amount of direct contact with animals in their household, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked and sharing food. If they need to care for their pet or be around animals while they are sick, they should wash their hands before and after they interact with them and wear a face mask.

Although there is no evidence that pets play a role in the epidemiology of COVID-19, strict hand hygiene should be maintained by the entire clinical team throughout the veterinary interaction, especially if dealing with an animal that has been in contact with an infected person.”

The BC Cattlemen’s Association provides advice and links here: cattlemen.bc.ca/covid19.htm

BC Livestock Co-op has good information on its site about upcoming bull sales in Williams Lake.

On a final note, is has been reported that there has been a massive abandonment of animals in areas in world hit by COVID.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake.

READ MORE: Ranch Musings: Encouraging the next generation


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