Poultry represents an important sector in animal production, with backyard flocks representing a huge majority, especially in the developing countries. In these countries, villagers raise poultry to meet household food demands and as additional sources of incomes.
Backyard production methods imply low biosecurity measures and high risk of infectious diseases, such as Newcastle disease or zoonosis such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).
BMC Veterinary Research has reviewed literature on biosecurity practices for prevention of infectious diseases, and published recommendations for backyard poultry and assessed evidence of their impact and feasibility, particularly in developing countries. Documents were sourced from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) website, and from Pubmed and Google databases.
A total of 62 peer-reviewed and non-referred documents were found, most of which were published recently (after 2004) and focused on HPAI/H5N1-related biosecurity measures (64 %). Recommendations addressed measures for flock management, feed and water management, poultry trade and stock change, poultry health management and the risk to humans. Only one general guideline was found for backyard poultry-related biosecurity; the other documents were drawn up for specific developing settings and only engaged their authors (e.g. consultants). These national guidelines written by consultants generated recommendations regarding measures derived from the highest standards of commercial poultry production. Although biosecurity principles of isolation and containment are described in most documents, only a few documents were found on the impact of measures in family poultry settings and none gave any evidence of their feasibility and effectiveness for backyard poultry.
Given the persistent threat posed by HPAI/H5N1 to humans in developing countries, the findings highlight the importance of encouraging applied research toward identifying sustained and adapted biosecurity measures for smallholder poultry flocks in low-income countries.