Biosecurity Measures in Poultry Rearing

Biosecurity refers to a set of management practices which reduce the potential for the introduction and spread of disease-causing organisms onto and between sites. Biosecurity procedures, particularly cleaning and disinfection, should be combined with vaccination and strategic treatments to either eradicate or reduce these pathogens to non-infectious levels. Some of the strategic measures that could be effected to enhance biosafety in poultry units include:

a)    Location and construction of poultry establishments

  • Suitably isolated geographical location. Consider direction of prevailing winds, location of other poultry establishments, and distance from roads.
  • Adequate drainage away from the site.
  • Avoid building sites near waterways, ponds or lakes utilized by migratory water fowl, and choose well drained areas to avoid standing water.  Birds on range will be susceptible to contamination from wild birds and will attract vermin. 
  • Wherever possible, site poultry houses away from major roads that handle high volumes of poultry vehicles
  • Use smooth impervious materials for effective cleaning and disinfection. Concrete pavements to facilitate cleaning and disinfection.
  • Security fence all round to prevent   entry of unwanted animals and people.
  • Post a sign at the entrance of the farm to indicate restricted entry.
  • The housing should used for single species with single purpose and with single age group at a time. If this is not feasible each should be managed as a separate epidemiological unit.
  • Have separate store houses to store eggs and feeds to prevent entry of wild birds, rodents and insects.
  • Use concrete or other impervious materials for poultry houses floors to facilitate cleaning and disinfection.
  • Feed should be delivered into poultry farm outside the security fence.
  • Traceability at all levels of the poultry production chain should be possible.
  • Relevant records of production should be maintained per individual flock e.g. treatment, vaccination, flock history, mortality and disease surveillance data.
  • Free from unwanted vegetation and debris.
  • Controlled access to the farm to ensure only authorized persons and vehicles enter the site.

b)    Hatcheries

  • Enough work flow and space for air circulation. Allow one way flow movement of eggs and day old chicks, and one way air flow in the same direction.
  • Have physical separation of areas used for:

a)    Personnel changing, showering and sanitary facilities
b)    Receipt, storage and transfer of eggs
c)    Incubation
d)    Hatching
e)    Sorting, sexing and placing of day-old birds in boxes
f)    Storage of egg boxes and chick boxes, egg flats, box pads, chemicals and other items
g)    Washing equipment
h)    Waste disposal
i)    Dining facilities for personnel
j)    Office space

  • Relevant records include fertility, hatchability, vaccination and treatment.
  • Records should be readily available for inspection.
  • Dead in shell embryos should be removed from hatcheries as soon as they are found and disposed of in a safe and effective manner.
  • All hatchery waste, garbage and discarded equipment should be contained or at least covered while on site and removed from the hatchery and its environs as soon as possible.
  • After use, hatchery equipment, tables and surfaces should be promptly and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with an approved disinfectant.
  • Egg handlers, chick sexers and chick handlers should wash their hands with soap and water before commencing work and between working with batches of hatching eggs or day-old birds from different breeder flocks.
  • Hatching eggs and day-old birds from different breeder flocks should be kept separate during incubation, hatching, sorting and transportation.
  • Day-old birds should be delivered to the farm in new containers or in clean, disinfected containers.

c)    Personnel and visitors

  • Should have training in biosecurity relevant to poultry production and food safety.
  • Visitors and personnel must shower and change into clean clothes and footwear provided by the establishment before carrying out any operatives. Where this is not practical, clean outer garments (coveralls or overalls, hats and footwear) should be provided.
  • Should wash their hands with soap and water and use a properly maintained disinfectant footbath. The disinfectant solution in the footbath should be changed on a regular basis to ensure its efficacy, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Should not have had recent contact with other poultry, poultry waste, or poultry processing plant(s).
  • All visitors should enter on foot.  Use regularly refilled foot dips, charged with a suitable disinfectant
  • Staff movements should be as limited as possible, particularly where the disease situation on a site has deteriorated.
  • All visitors should observe standard operating procedures on vehicle cleansing and disinfection, and protective, farm only clothing should be provided to and used by drivers.
  • All visitors should enter on foot.  Use regularly refilled foot dips, charged with a suitable disinfectant
  • A shower in, shower out facility should also be put in place wherever possible.
  • Control site traffic.  Keep it to a minimum and exclude all unauthorized persons.

d)    Layer-breeder housing.

  • Nest box litter and liners should be kept clean.
  • Hatching eggs should be collected at frequent intervals, at least daily, and placed in a new or clean and disinfected packaging material.
  • Grossly dirty, broken, cracked, or leaker eggs should be collected separately and should not be used as hatching eggs.
  • Hatching eggs should be cleaned and sanitized as soon as possible after collection using an approved sanitizing agent, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Hatching eggs or their packaging materials should be marked to assist traceability and veterinary investigations.
  • The sanitized hatching eggs should be stored in a dedicated room as soon as possible after collection.
  • Storage conditions should minimize the potential for microbial contamination and growth and ensure maximum hatchability. The room should be well ventilated, kept clean, and regularly disinfected using disinfectants approved for this purpose.

Other key Biosecurity measures

1)     Incoming poultry should be from high health status sources, and with a well defined health monitoring and audit procedure for breeder supply flocks.  This should extend to hatchery hygiene procedures with regular microbiological monitoring.
2)    Have on-site incineration to avoid the potential spread of infection from diseased carcasses.
3)    Effective cleaning and disinfection reduces pathogen numbers and the weight of disease challenge, and enhances any biosecurity programme.  It can only be achieved with sufficient turnaround/down time to allow removal of all litter, and to satisfy required contact times for the disinfection products used prior to restocking.  Cleaning and disinfection should include houses, equipment and surroundings.
4)    Use potable drinking water with a low total viable count.  Maintain a closed water system with lids on all header tanks.  At turnaround, clean and disinfect the water system with a suitable product to remove the greasy biofilm that will harbour and protect pathogens.
5)    Treat feed bins and feed delivery systems.  Feed delivered to the site must be of high health status and vermin protected.  Finished feed and stored raw materials should be sampled regularly for salmonella. "High risk" raw materials or sources should not be used.
6)    Check biosecurity procedures regularly.  Use only biosecurity products with independently proven broad spectrum efficacy against viral and bacterial pathogens, and use them according to manufacturers' instructions.
7)    Maintain an effective, audited rodent and wild bird control programme, and prevent entry of poultry houses by vermin through good house design and repair.

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