Biosecurity for Disease control/prevention

Bio-security is a commonly used poultry industry term that can be defined simply as “informed common sense”. That is, one develops a basic understanding of the principles of disease transmission and combines this knowledge with good old “common sense”. The objective would be to have a program design such that the diseases are not brought onto the poultry farm and poultry are not brought to diseases. An effective bio-security program allows one to keep diseases off poultry farms; or if diseases organisms are present, such a program would eliminate them or at least reduce them to a level of little or no significance.

Poultry veterinarians have been attempting to control diseases by improving bio-security practices. This emphasis on controlling diseases by bio-security practices rather than relying on vaccines and/or antibiotics have resulted due to changes in the industry itself. As poultry farms became larger and more intensive, disease outbreaks became more costly; as the lifespan of broilers decreased due to improved genetics and feedings, birds did not have sufficient time to recover from diseases and make it to processing.

Veterinarians often find it difficult to convince many farm managers of the importance of bio-security programs. The lack of support for these disease prevention programs, which many farm managers may see as costly, time consuming, and just more unnecessary work, is probably due to the failure of previous programs. However, the failure of previous efforts was likely due to poor design and improper implementation of the programs. A comprehensive bio-security program cannot eliminate the possibility of disease, but it can reduce the probability. In addition, often it is not possible to demonstrate direct benefits from a bio-security program from just one flock. Improved production usually occurs gradually over several flocks. 

Bio-security Measures on the Farm

Poultry producers should strengthen bio-security practices to prevent the introduction of diseases into their flocks. The following are some sound bio-security practices:

  • Keep an “all–in, all–out”, philosophy of flock management.
  • Protect poultry flocks from coming into contact with wild or migratory birds. Keep poultry away from any source of water that may have been contaminated by wild birds.
  • Permit only essential workers and vehicles to enter the farm.
  • Provide clean clothing and disinfection facilities for employees.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect equipment and vehicles (including tires and undercarriage) entering and leaving the farm.
  • Do not loan to, or borrow equipment or vehicles from, other farms.
  • Avoid visiting other poultry farms. If you do visit another farm or live–bird market, change footwear and clothing before working with your own flock.
  • Do not bring birds from slaughter channels, especially live–bird markets, back to the farm.

Bio-security Measures at Live–bird Markets

To prevent a possible outbreak of disease, poultry producers and dealers must also use bio-security precautions at live–bird markets. Live–bird markets operate in many major cities.

Avian influenza viruses can be introduced into these markets if they receive infected birds or contaminated crates and trucks. Once the virus is established in the market, the movement of birds, crates, or trucks from a contaminated market can spread the virus to other farms and markets.

Therefore, the following protective measures should be taken at live–bird markets to prevent the possible spread of disease:

  • Use plastic instead of wooden crates for easier cleaning.
  • Keep scales and floors clean of manure, feathers, and other debris.
  • Clean and disinfect all equipment, crates, and vehicles before returning them to the farm.
  • Keep incoming poultry separate from unsold birds, especially if birds are from different lots.
  • Clean and disinfect the marketplace after every day of sale.
  • Do not return unsold birds to the farm.


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