The UK farm and hatchery facilities exporting Cobb broiler breeding stock globally have been granted ‘GB enhanced compartment’ status.
Outbreaks of avian influenza
With the agreement of an importing country, the high standards of biosecurity within a compartment allow breeding stock to be supplied to customers when outbreaks of avian influenza or Newcastle disease in a particular country would normally restrict exports.
The approval by the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) covers the great grandparent and grandparent stock farms of Cobb Europe which extend across East Anglia and the East Midlands and the grandparent hatchery in Norfolk. They supply breeding stock not only across the Cobb Europe region, which also serves the Middle East and Africa, but to customers worldwide.
Lyndsey Cassidy, quality assurance co-ordinator of Cobb Europe, has worked on the project since she joined the company five years ago. "In a world where there is a real need to manage trade and maintain a secure supply to all customers, notifiable disease outbreaks are becoming a significant concern," she said.
Poultry breeding stock
"Poultry breeding stock is now shipped around the world from a small number of primary breeding companies. Outbreaks of both avian influenza and Newcastle disease can severely impact trade as national governments can choose to block imports from affected countries for weeks or even months. Maintaining country freedom from notifiable diseases is no longer a viable approach to preserving open trade routes, and this is why achieving the compartment status is so important not only to breeding companies like Cobb but to customers who rely on regular imports to continue their own production."
High standard of biosecurity, disease-free facilities
In 2004, the World Health Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) introduced the concept of 'compartments' to recognise businesses which operate to such a high standard of biosecurity that they can ensure their facilities will remain disease free even in the event of a notifiable disease outbreak in the country.
In 2009, the UK Government introduced its own version of compartmentalization. They adopted all the rules of the EU compartment standard, but additionally required enhanced serological testing and biosecurity. This has resulted in the 'GB enhanced' compartment having the most stringent requirements for any currently operating compartment scheme in the world.
Cobb Europe - high biosecurity standards
"After comprehensive auditing of procedures and facilities, the APHA has recognised that Cobb Europe operates to the high standards required to be included in the GB Enhanced Compartmentalization Scheme," said Lyndsey Cassidy.
"Through comprehensive company-wide operating procedures and risk management through strict Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, Cobb facilities maintain separation and prevent notifiable diseases from infecting our livestock," added Cassidy.