Sometimes biosecurity can be about the “little” things, like having a good fence around your farm and/or poultry houses. Dr. Louise Dufour-Zavala, department head and interim director, Georgia Poultry Laboratory, Oakwood, Georgia, gave a perfect example of this at the USPOULTRY Production & Health Seminar held recently in Memphis, Tenn. She described how Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) came to infect some breeder flocks in Georgia.

MG can be spread vertically, from bird to bird in a flock, or horizontally, from hen to offspring through the egg. MG is one of several diseases that breeders are tested for as part of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP). Two young breeder flocks in Georgia tested positive at 24 weeks of age. Shortly after this, a third breeder flock with a second integrator tested positive for MG. Dr. Dufour-Zavala and colleagues engaged in a little detective work to trace the epidemiology of this MG outbreak.

The first two breeder flocks came from the same pullet grower. The pullet grower’s neighbor had around 20 birds in a backyard flock running loose. These birds liked to go over to the feed bins at the pullet grower’s houses and forage for any feed that had been spilled. There was no fence separating the two properties.

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Dr. Dufour-Zavala, department head,
Georgia poultry laboratory, Oakwood, Ga.
 

Dr. Dufour-Zavala said that they tested the backyard flock, and every bird, including on escaped commercial bird, tested positive for Mycoplasma synoviae (MS) and MG. The birds' owner agreed to let the birds be tested, since Dr. Dufour-Zavala said that the testing was free and any treatment would also be provided free of charge. Upon questioning, the neighbor said that he worked as a chicken catcher.

There was an obvious connection between the third breeder flock to break with MG and one of the first two. The third flock was on a farm owned by a brother-in-law of the owner of one of the first two farms to break with MG. Poor biosecurity led to three breeder flocks with MG.

Dr. Dufour-Zavala gave another example of poor biosecurity in an LT outbreak. Two growers were sharing a mortality pit, and as you might expect, both farms broke with LT.

Good biosecurity starts with a plan, and then you must execute that plan. Dr. David Shapiro, Perdue Farms, Inc., outlined five steps to better biosecurity at the seminar, and these are presented in this issue of LVG online.

Diseases like MG or LT can really hurt your bottom line, and we don’t even want to think about the damage that avian influenza could cause for the entire poultry industry in this country. Biosecurity is our only defense against these diseases. The old saying, “Good fences make good neighbors,” is certainly true when it comes to biosecurity and poultry farms.