Egg businesses are being given a helping hand to develop and improve their biosecurity levels thanks to a new initiative by the International Egg Commission’s (IEC) Avian Influenza Global Expert Group.
The checklist covers transportation and the risk of contaminating flocks, manure management and personnel and equipment, which is seen as the number one risk factor in spreading avian influenza.
It also provides companies with information on the type of personal protective equipment that should be worn, the need to adopt a rodent and pest prevention and control programme and feed and water issues.
And it has a section on birds with outdoor access, stressing that in high risk periods it is advised to temporarily restrict outdoor flocks from infection as well as information on AI testing and monitoring by vets.
Among the critical considerations highlighted by the IEC in the checklist are:
• Biosecurity programmes are not “one size fits all” and must be site and structure specific
• All-in/all-out farm design and planning is ideal, but companies can achieve biosecurity with operational considerations or structural investment on multi-age complexes
• Firms must establish and control a well-defined clean/dirty line (at farm gate and chicken house door)
• All farm personnel/visitors/vendors/contract crews must follow all farm biosecurity Standard Operating Procedures at all times
• Companies should track all inputs and outputs on a farm, including people, vehicles, equipment, pullets/layers
• Consideration should be given to how certain Standard Operating Procedures will be completed in the winter versus summer
• Short cuts lead to potential infection
• Vets should have oversight of the biosecurity programme and flock monitoring programme.
The IEC’s AI Expert Group includes Professor Ian Brown, head of virology at the Animal Plant Health Laboratory (UK), Dr Alejandro Thiermann, past president Terrestrial Animal Health Code Commission at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Dr Hongwei Xin, director of the Egg Industry Centre, USA and former IEC chairman Ben Dellaert.
Mr Dellaert said at the recent IEC Leadership conference in Bruges that it was important that members received the latest information on AI issues, including biosecurity and vaccination. The vaccination information will be available in the next few months.
The IEC has stepped up its work on AI and has opened up channels with the World Health Organization in the light of concerns about the H7N9 virus and its links to human health.