Good biosecurity around poultry housing will bring a 44-fold reduction in the risk of avian influenza infection, according to the UK’s chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss.
Defra epidemiologists who have looked at outbreaks on free-range egg farms have found that the weaknesses are generally within the inner shell of the farm, particularly around entrances to houses, and the lack of a lobby with separate clean/dirty areas.
They also highlighted no dedicated house PPE, poor foot dip locations, incorrect dilution and no dedicated brush, no washbasin or hand sanitiser, and a lack of secure doors. Issues have been found in the egg room where it serves as a lobby into the poultry accommodation. Staff working in the egg room can then be responsible for the transmission of the virus into the house via the egg belt.
St David’s Poultry say biosecurity measures should reduce the risk to a flock the closer you get to the house. When considering or planning the approach, they say the 3 key stages to consider are:
For site design, things to consider include:
The need to prevent wild animals and birds accessing the flock is well known and is really important in the prevention of the spread of avian influenza. The virus survives well in wet conditions and can be easily transported around a site. For example, water can collect on concrete aprons, parking areas and approach paths with flaws in a building’s structure allowing leakage in the flock housing. Preventing the ingress of this potentially contaminated water is vital to defend the flock. Top tips include:
Having the correct procedures and operational attitudes are vital and among the issues to consider are having a biosecurity policy that ensure measures are accessible and easy to maintain with regular training. There should be a named biosecurity officer for each site and breaches must be recorded. There should be clear signage along with a site access plan/map. Visitors should be kept to a minimum and they should all be recorded.
Remember to include wheel washing, a terminal hygiene programme and incorporate double step over barrier. Tools and equipment must be cleaned and disinfected before being used in poultry areas.