COVID-19 Update for Livestock Farms

Interim Guidance for Animal Care Operations from NYS Ag & Markets

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets released the following Interim Guidance for Animal Care Operations on March 22, 2020.

This guidance is provided for animal agriculture workers to include those employed in veterinary health; manufacturing and distribution of animal medical materials and supplies, animal vaccines, animal drugs, feed, and bedding, etc.; raising of animals; animal production operations; transportation of live animals, animal medical supplies; transportation of deceased animals for disposal; livestock markets, including live bird markets, slaughter and packing plants.

It also includes equine operations and companion animal/pet stores and shelters; veterinary services for equine, companion animal and other businesses considered essential; and related support/service operations.


In December 2019, a new respiratory disease called Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) was detected in China. COVID-19 is caused by a virus (SARS-CoV-2) that is part of a large family of viruses called coronaviruses.

On March 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed the “PAUSE” Executive Order, a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone. It includes a new directive that all nonessential businesses statewide must close in-office personnel functions effective at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 22. Essential businesses are exempt from this guidance.

Animal care operations, as defined below, have been deemed essential and are exempt.

For purposes of Executive Order 202.6, animal care operations are defined as the following businesses/activities:

Livestock/Equine/Captive Cervids:
  • Feeding
  • Barn or facility maintenance, stall cleaning and enclosure repair
  • Turnout and exercise
  • Essential hoof maintenance and veterinary care
  • Transportation necessary to meet any of the above functions
  • Agribusiness that supports any of the above functions
Companion Animals:
  • Care and feeding of companion animals in shelters, kennels, rescues, operations and pet stores
  • Pet food manufacturers, distributors, and retailers
  • Essential veterinary care, including spay/neuter, treatment for infectious disease
  • Animal shelters receiving seized, lost or abandoned animals
  • Adoption of animals from within New York State
  • Pet boarding facilities
  • Service dog training and care

If a business does not fall within this guidance, but you believe that it is essential or it is an entity providing essential services or functions, you may request designation as an essential business. You can request designation as an essential business online.

Animal Care/Boarding Facilities:

If you have an animal at a privately-owned facility, terms regarding client use and visitation rests with that business owner. Social distancing must be adhered to.

For equine: It is permissible to have horse owners as the primary providers of daily care for their own horses at boarding facilities, however business owners and horse owners must collaborate to minimize the number of people in the stable and to adhere to social distancing.

There is no evidence that animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection/can spread this new coronavirus. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19.

For Employees: Cleaning/Disinfecting and Social Distancing

All privately-owned facilities must practice social distancing, and proper cleaning and sanitizing of the facility.

This includes:

  • Regular hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds should be done:
    • Before and after eating.
    • After sneezing, coughing, or nose blowing.
    • After touching face, hair, cellphone and/or clothing.
    • After using the restroom.
    • Before handling food.
    • After touching or cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated.
    • After using shared equipment and supplies.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or the corner of elbow.
  • Dispose of soiled tissues immediately after use.

It is encouraged to post signage with hand washing procedures in prominent locations. Clean and disinfect buildings and equipment as outlined in this guidance.

For Additional Information:

Kacey Deamer

Kacey is the Communications Manager for the Cornell Small Farms Program. In this role, she manages all storytelling and outreach across the program’s website, social media, e-newsletter, magazine and more. Kacey has worked in communications and journalism for more than a decade, with a primary focus on science and sustainability.
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