Poultry producers make regular determinations for management, nutrition and health programs based on qualitative data and risk assessment. Biosecurity decisions should be made the same way.

That was the conclusion of David Shapiro, DVM, director of Veterinary Services, Perdue Farms, in a presentation at the 2014 International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE).

Nonetheless, poultry biosecurity programs are not always planned and executed with the same thoroughness as management, nutrition or health programs, he said.

"Exhaustive sets of biosecurity Standard Operating Procedures [SOPs] and Best Management Practices [BMPs] are often well intentioned but not well considered or properly prioritized," he said. "A biosecurity rule should reduce risk. If you are considering a new biosecurity rule, don't think about the rule, think about how much it reduces the risk of disease transmission."

Three questions to ask about your biosecurity rules

He recommended asking the following questions about biosecurity rules:


  • Does the rule massively reduce the chances of disease transmission? An example would be, "Don't visit healthy farms after you have visited a farm with a flock that is clearly sick."
  • Does the rule reduce the chances of disease transmission in some situation? An example would be, "Change hairnets and coveralls between visits to farms."
  • Does the rule sound good but only have a minimal chance of directly reducing the risk of disease transmission? An example would be, "Sign the visitor's log."

Most significant biosecurity risks

What are the most significant biosecurity risks? Shapiro named the following:

  • Live chicken traffic (live-haul or live-bird markets)
  • Humans or live animals that go from one chicken house to another (people, rodents, wild birds)
  • Dead chicken traffic (disposal site)
  • Poultry density in the area (higher density results in every risk being intensified)
  • General disease situation in the area
  • Interaction of poultry folk in the area

"Your biosecurity practices should reduce these risks," he said.

"Challenge your biosecurity protocols, especially if they are not effective or lack a key component," he advised. "If you leave big gaps, you may be wasting your time with other procedures. When formulating a procedure spend as much time thinking about compliance as scientific validity."

Five steps to better biosecurity

  • Eliminate as many risks as possible with rules and procedures
  • Manage those risks you cannot eliminate
  • Develop farm-specific biosecurity programs
  • Establish BMPs for each area of the company involved in live birds
  • Conduct biosecurity risk assessments for all phases of live production

All broiler sites should have a risk assessment on file, and the biosecurity risk assessments should judge biosecurity in a qualitative way, he said.