Biosecurity refers to practices designed to prevent, reduce, or eliminate the introduction and spread of disease. It is a key management tool and an essential part of any successful animal protein production enterprise.
It ensures not only the health, welfare, and productivity of animals, and helps to ensure the safety of food for human consumption.
Good biosecurity should be practiced at all times, not just during a disease outbreak. Important biosecurity practices include:
Buildings should be constructed to prevent access by birds and rodents, paying special attention to risk areas such as air inlets, extractors, egg conveyors, litter/manure pits, drains, etc. Construction materials should be chosen to allow for effective cleaning and disinfection.
Building surroundings should have a 1-2 meter wide strip of concrete, gravel or neatly cut grass around the perimeter, and this area should always be kept free of waste material, weeds, garbage, or unused equipment. Maintaining this area near the house in good condition will reduce potential hiding places for vermin or nesting areas for wild birds and help reduce the presence of rodents around buildings.
Perimeter fencing with a single access gate that will always be kept closed (so that only authorized personnel have access), and with "no trespassing" signs. It is vital that the perimeter fence is walked at least weekly to check for any damage. Keep all weeds away from the bottom of the fence.
Traffic should be limited to only essential vehicles, and only allow only clean vehicles that have been preferably disinfected using an automatically activated disinfection arch, including a disinfection basin, onto your property. Other vehicles should be parked in a designated area outside the biosecurity zone.
Visitors including service personnel should complete and sign a visitor log before entering the farm, and strictly observe any minimum required days off-farm between farm visits. Provide visitors with clean coveralls, disposable hairnets, and footwear: Rubber Wellington boots are recommended because they are easy to clean and disinfect.
Staff should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water, before and after coming into contact with animals. They should organize their work from healthy to sick, and the youngest to the oldest animals.
Showers are mandatory and should always be clean, including changing rooms, with hot water, soap, and clean, dry towels available (otherwise people will cheat and not shower).
Feed if bought onto the property ideally requires that feed trucks should stay outside the perimeter fence to fill feed storage silos. The feed can be treated (thermal, or chemicals such as organic acids) to minimize the risk of introducing a disease. All spilt food under feed bins must be swept up and removed immediately. Ensure all bagged feed is stacked tidily on pallets off the floor and away from walls.
Rodents are important vectors for diseases. Being nocturnal, rodent activity is rarely seen in daylight so you need to look for evidence instead such as droppings, tracks, or signs of damage caused by chewing. It should be assumed that rodents occur on every farm. Bait stations should be installed along the walls of the houses and in any area where high rodent activity is observed. Stations should be checked weekly and fresh bait replenished as needed. Also, an adult rat will eat 15 grams a day of feed (and contaminate even more) – with 1,000 rats on the farm this is nearly 5 tons per year.
Pests such as flies, mites, and darkling beetles, also need to be controlled. Additionally, wildlife, feral animals, and pets should be prevented from accessing the farm.
Water for drinking, as well as water used in cooling systems (such as foggers or evaporative pads), must be of good sanitary quality. Water tanks should always be kept closed to avoid attracting birds, as they represent a high risk of contamination.
Equipment wherever possible should not be shared between houses: each house should be self-sufficient in terms of mobile equipment (e.g., scales). If an exchange of equipment or material between houses is unavoidable, it should always be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before entering the house.
Footbaths can actually become a source of contamination if poorly managed. They should be cleaned daily and replenished with fresh disinfectant, as disinfectant products can lose activity due to the action of sunlight, being diluted by rainwater, or becoming soiled with mud or organic material. The soles of the shoes are also a place with ideal conditions for the multiplication of pathogens: it is important to brush the soles before going through the footbath and to clean and brush them after each visit. Footbaths are NOT a substitute for dedicated in-house footwear.
Farm waste including dead animals should be disposed of in a manner that is hygienic and does not encourage the presence of rodents and other vermin, insects, and predators, and according to local regulations.