Disease outbreaks resulting from Avian influenza within the industry underline the critical importance of poultry farm biosecurity and reinforce the continued need for program review. Recent and persistent outbreaks of AI have caused producers to proactively review and tighten their biosecurity measures.
When depopulation, repopulation and revenue losses are factored in, Avian influenza can cost poultry producers $2 million per 50,000 bird flock. While biosecurity programs are designed to protect producers from these losses, it’s important to keep in mind that comprehensive biosecurity programs also protect flocks from pathogens such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridia and E. coli.
For example, Clostridia leads to necrotic enteritis. A single enteritis event experienced prior to point of lay can cost the average laying hen 6 eggs over her laying lifetime. In turkeys enteritis can increase bird mortality by up to 5%.
The same condition in million-bird broiler flocks has been shown to cost more than $900,000 per incident, thanks to a 3% increase in mortality and a 5% loss of body weight.
Effective biosecurity prevents pathogen entry into live production and protects poultry producers from significant losses. Comprehensive biosecurity is a multi-faceted program and has been repeatedly outlined by industry experts and is summarized here.
Types of Biosecurity in Poultry
Biosecurity is often thought of in two major categories:
- Encompasses how facilities are built, designed and maintained.
- For example, engineering controls that keep wild birds from entering poultry houses, or systems for holding and moving feed throughout the operation both require structural elements that prevent fomite entry and fomite contamination.
- Identifies the pathogen transmission risk of the operation.
- Incorporates control strategies that interrupt or mitigate pathogen transmission. This includes activities such as shower in and out procedures, feed pathogen interventions and visitor policies.
Poultry Farm Biosecurity Checklist
- Limit visitors and operation traffic
- Place signage at entrances indicating that farm and building entry is restricted to authorized personnel with respect to disease control.
- Create a single-direction traffic flow for people, equipment and vehicles with sanitation stations provided at the beginning and end.
- Ensure that all equipment and vehicles are cleaned and disinfected before being used.
- Personnel Hygiene
- Create policies and systems that require and enable personnel to disinfect all footwear or utilize site-provider footwear/footwear covers before entering operation facilities
- Hands must be washed prior to entering poultry houses and processing areas and washed again prior to exit.
- Train personnel on the importance of biosecurity and the company biosecurity program. Retain all training records and refresh personnel training regularly.
- Have procedures in place to facilitate program compliance.
- Facility Hygiene and Integrity
- Lock entrances to poultry houses
- Poultry houses are secured to prevent the entry of wild birds and other wildlife
- Pets and backyard poultry are prohibited
- Feed spills are routinely cleaned, and water is used from a secured source to prevent the attraction of wild birds and rodents
- Monitor Bird Health
- Keep close tabs on flock disease incidence and mortality rate.
- Remove deceased birds immediately.
- Cull birds that show disease symptoms
- Protect against Feed-source Pathogens
- Understand the pathogen risk of your feed and formulation ingredients.
- Ensure that feed is kept dry, covered and off the ground during storage and transport.
- Implement feed pathogen control solutions that work.
- Build a Biosecurity Culture
- Create a biosecurity program that is easy to understand and easier to practice.
- Communicate the importance of biosecurity regularly.
- Continuously look for ways to improve and understand how pathogens can enter and exit your operation.
One of the most significant investments in poultry production also presents a significant risk to poultry farm biosecurity. That investment? Feed.
Feed is central to poultry production and has been linked to AI, Clostridia, Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli. Feed pathogen control is critical to implementing effective poultry farm biosecurity. Take our Feed Ingredient Risk Assessment to better understand how feed and feed ingredients impact biosecurity.