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A biosecurity programme for healthy poultry

Biosecurity is crucial and essential for the safe and profitable production of all types of livestock, but poultry production is especially at risk for the following reasons


Modern poultry production is highly intensive with fast throughput and short turnaround times for batches of birds

There is a heightened risk of disease development and spread on typical multi-age farms and especially for young birds newly established in poultry houses vacated by mature flocks sent to market or culled

The continuous threat of importing disease carried on vehicles that have previously stopped at other farms during delivery of new birds and feed or taking broilers out to the processing plant and eggs out to packing sheds

High risk from large transient and contract work forces in close contact with birds and employment history at other farms

The add on extra risk from contract workers brought in to carry out specific tasks like catching and vaccination

Specific threats from poultry diseases such as avian influenza established in Asian wild bird populations and backyard poultry

Acute susceptibility of poultry to rodent-borne infections like salmonella, fungus spores causing aspergillosis and mycotoxins produced by specific mould fungi


Start as you mean to go on


‘Biosecurity’ is a much used and abused word, easy to talk about but extremely difficult to establish and maintain. Biosecurity programmes must be strategically planned, far-reaching and underpinned by the basic principles and rules of good hygiene. Ultimate long-term success will only be achieved with clear-cut priorities and correctly sequenced steps.

Sustainable biosecurity means beginning with an absolutely disease free environment and then erecting and maintaining a hermetic (sealed) cordon around the entire farm. As an extra precaution separate biosecurity cordons are established around each individual poultry house as additional barriers to infection.

Only buy poultry stock from known disease-free sources. All incoming vehicles must be washed down and tyres and wheel arches sprayed to ‘run-off’ with disinfectant. Drivers should remain in the cab or otherwise be provided with waterproof protective clothing and boots.

The focal point of any biosecurity programme is the provision of pest and disease free housing for birds. New birds brought onto the farm must be isolated from other birds for fourteen days while blood tests, vaccination, preventative medication and anti-parasitic treatment are carried out. In the meantime the existing flock should be removed from the intended house which is made biosecure before the new flock installed.