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A holistic approach to biosecurity; don’t leave it to the vet

By Stanley Kaye

One of the most discussed topics in the poultry world today is biosecurity. The global fight against the Avian influenza (bird flu) has increased interest in the need to endorse strict biosecurity policies to prevent disease spread.

These policies include the minimizing of traffic of biological organisms (viruses, bacteria, rodents, etc.) from one chicken farm to the other. As this policy deals directly with poultry health, many believe that responsibility for biosecurity should be left in the hands of the vet. However, while veterinary physicians must provide the knowledge, the implementation of good biosecurity practices should be prime concern of everybody in the company or farm.

HR policy implications

One of the key issues of biosecurity should be human resources decisions that might have serious implications. So, for example, an electrician responding to urgent calls from two different poultry farms might be an obvious infection vector.

As it turns out, the decision whether to have an in-house electrician or one on call, is not just a cost-saving decision but a vital biosecurity concern.

Decisions on issues such as whether a farm should own forklifts for marketing or hire them are also biosecurity decisions as they will result in a decision on using them in one place or transferring them from farm to farm.

The only way to introduce a sound biosecurity program is by adopting a holistic company approach.

What is important?

When we at Agrotop begin with project design, we always make sure to include in the process expert knowledge of biosecurity requirements. Amongst the things we take into consideration are:

  • Position of farms relative to neighbors
  • Movement from clean to dirty and young to old
  • Access roads
  • Proximity of main roads Entry and exit facilities for supplies such as feed, workers and visitors
  • Feed and gas supply from outside the farm, if possible
  • Facilities with visitors viewing rooms to avoid contact with birds
  • Maintenance and spare parts – lack of a spare part is often cause of biosecurity breakdown as the part is moved from farm to farm
  • Remote monitoring of farms – so experts can see and control the farm without entering it physically

And the final point – the best way to stay healthy is not to get ill in the first place. Experience shows that the best way to keep birds healthy is to provide them with good ventilation and good conditions.

For further advice about biosecurity and keeping birds healthy for new or existing farms and projects, contact us.

The writer is a business development consultant at Agrotop.