US poultry sector tightens biosecurity

29-09-2015 | | |
US poultry sector tightens biosecurity
US poultry sector tightens biosecurity

The US government is looking to tighten biosecurity on poultry farms following what has been described “as the worst animal disease outbreak in history,” delegates heard at the International Egg Commission’s global leadership conference in Berlin.

Chad Gregory, president of US-based United Egg Producers, said the US department of agriculture was leading a biosecurity effort that would include on-farm self-assessment and, potentially, an on-farm audit following the devastating avian influenza outbreak earlier this year.

Inefficiencies in biosecurity

Gregory said farmers had been shocked at how the virus had spread: “We thought biosecurity was good. It was good, but we realise now that it wasn’t good enough.”

The outbreak spread through the air, he added, but there is also evidence that it was passed to neighbouring holdings by farm vehicles. “It’s something that I never want to see repeated.”

One third of birds culled

The outbreak on 223 premises particularly affected the egg products market, where a third of the nation’s birds were culled. It had cost the US government $1bn and up to 25m dozen eggs have been imported, mainly from Mexico and Europe, to help sustain the sector.

Disposing of the birds through burial, composting, incineration and landfill proved particularly difficult and time consuming, as was cleaning and disinfecting holdings.

European concerns

Strict biosecurity is also a priority in the UK and Europe. Arjan Stegeman, professor of Farm Animal Health at Utrecht University, said further outbreaks of highly pathogenic AI were inevitable due to the reservoir of the disease in wild birds.

Preventative measures could include indoor housing, especially in wetland and poultry-dense regions, and making free-range farms as unattractive as possible to wild birds.

Vaccination successes

Commenting on vaccination progress, Prof Stegeman said that, while it was proving successful in laboratory conditions, responses were less good in the field.

“We need a better response or otherwise we will get the same situation as in Egypt and China where vaccinated birds do not show clinical symptoms, but the virus is still being circulated.”

The AI Summit followed the announcement that the IEC has set up an expert group to find practical ways to tackle the impact of AI.

Source:Poultry World