Maintain the biosecurity cordon
With the healthy new flock of birds safely installed in a pest and disease free building it is now up to the producer to see it stays that way using utmost caution coupled with a dose of ‘common-sense’ good hygiene practice.
Keep visitors to an absolute minimum. Provide all authorised personnel with waterproof clothing and boots that can be easily and effectively cleaned and changed regularly.
Provide a ‘foot-bath’ of disinfectant at the entrance to each house and a brush for cleaning boots prior to immersion in the ‘foot-bath’. Renew the disinfectant daily. ‘Foot-baths’ are not a practical essential but also a constant reminder to staff about the need for constant vigilance to maintain biosecurity.
Wash down and disinfect all vehicles entering the farm so that they come in clean and leave dirty. Schedule and route those vehicles unloading at multiple points on the farm so that they stop first in areas of highest vulnerability (young birds), and then move to areas of lower vulnerability (e.g. mature flocks).
Scrub drinkers daily with an appropriate disinfectant mixed with detergent. Iodine is good because it removes algae and slime, is of low toxicity to birds and its brown colour allows managers to check that the job has been done. Remove all dead birds quickly and carefully. Seal in bags for disposal and incinerate well away from the poultry house to prevent cross contamination with feathers or ash.
One potentially high risk that often goes unnoticed is potential sources of infection within the farm environment, outside of the poultry house but posing threat of re-infection. For example, vegetation between houses should be well managed or preferably replaced by concrete that does not harbour infection so readily and is easily cleaned. All cleaning programmes must include such areas as follows.
Clear all equipment, rubbish and other vermin attracting material away from poultry houses, and do not park vehicles and equipment from clean-up programmes near to houses lest they cause re-infection. Remove all droppings, litter and other bedding to points at least 200 metres away from the house and stack so that it cannot be dispersed by wind. Store hay, straw bales and other bedding material in dry, closed places so that poultry houses are not at risk from wind-borne fungal spores released from damp and musty material.
Biosecurity programmes need to be well planned and encompass the entire farm environment as well as recognising hazards from outside. But even the best-laid plans will go awry if procedures are not followed to the letter. For instance, carrying non-disinfected fittings back into the fogged poultry house or introduction of litter after fogging will negate the whole programme.
Dr Terry Mabbett