Quarantine and isolation

The most likely way for disease to arrive on your farm is through the arrival of new animals, or the return of your own animals from elsewhere. 

You can help to protect animals already on your farm against disease by separating them from the arriving animals until your vet is sure they are free of disease. This is referred to as quarantine and is a key part of reducing disease impact.

Disease may also develop within your stock at any time, so you will look to separate sick animals to protect your healthy animals.  This is referred to as isolation and it allows sick animals to rest and recover and prevents disease spreading around the pen, group or wider farm.

The key adviser is your vet who will ensure the design of your own quarantine and isolation programmes form part of your health and biosecurity plan.


You can take steps to prepare your farm so you can effectively quarantine or isolate animals.

  • Designate specific areas of your farm to be used for quarantine or isolation. You could require several areas at one time, for example:
    • a quarantine area for newly arriving/returning animals
    • an isolation area for animals in quarantine which develop disease
    • an isolation area for resident animals which become sick
  • These areas should:
    • be as far as possible from all other animals
    • be completely separate buildings with separate airspace, and double-fenced grazings
    • use separate equipment, if possible
    • have separate feed, water, drainage supplies and bedding
    • be adequately lit to allow effective inspection of animals
  • Disinfectant footbaths placed at the isolation area entrance act as a barriers to disease.


When managing animals that are in quarantine and isolation day-to-day.

  • Make all farm staff fully aware of recommended separation procedures.
  • Best practice is for separate staff to take responsibility for tending animals in quarantine or isolation, using separate Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Where it is not possible to use separate staff:
    • use separate Personal Protective Equipment
    • tend to these animals last, after healthy animals
  • Always disinfect or change Personal Protective Equipment after the tending routine is complete.
  • Inspect animals in quarantine regularly and look closely for signs of disease.
  • If you identify signs of disease contact your vet immediately regarding diagnosis, treatment and future management.
  • Inspect animals in isolation regularly, monitor closely and report progress to your vet.
  • Take care when handling and disposing of contaminated bedding, waste and feed.


Veterinary advice is required on specific aspects of quarantine and isolation

  • The length of quarantine required.  This must cover incubation periods of most acute infectious diseases, so may be 6 weeks or longer, or the time for test results to be received.
  • Import permits for imported animals. Check with Animal and Plant Health Agency.
  • Release of animals from quarantine.  Formal notices may be required.