The UK farm and hatchery facilities which export Cobb broiler breeding stock globally have been granted “GB enhanced compartment” status—the most stringent requirements for any such operation.
With the agreement of an importing country, the high standards of biosecurity within a compartment allow breeding stock to be supplied to customers when outbreaks of avian influenza or Newcastle disease in a particular country would normally restrict exports.
The approval by the UK Animal and Plant Heath Agency (APHA) covers the great grandparent and grandparent stock farms of Cobb Europe which extend across East Anglia and the East Midlands and the grandparent hatchery in Norfolk. They supply breeding stock not only across the Cobb Europe region, which also serves the Middle East and Africa, but to customers worldwide.
Lyndsey Cassidy, quality assurance coordinator of Cobb Europe, has worked on the project since she joined the company five years ago.
“In a world where there is a real need to manage trade and maintain a secure supply to all customers, notifiable disease outbreaks are becoming a significant concern,” she said.
“Poultry breeding stock is now shipped around the world from a small number of primary breeding companies. Outbreaks of both avian influenza and Newcastle disease can severely impact trade as national governments can choose to block imports from affected countries for weeks or even months. Maintaining country freedom from notifiable diseases is no longer a viable approach to preserving open trade routes, and this is why achieving the compartment status is so important not only to breeding companies like Cobb but to customers who rely on regular imports to continue their own production.”
In 2004, the World Health Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) introduced the concept of compartments to recognize businesses which operate to such a high standard of biosecurity that they can ensure their facilities will remain disease free even in the event of a notifiable disease outbreak in the country.
In 2009, the UK Government introduced its own version of compartmentalization. They adopted all the rules of the EU compartment standard, but additionally required enhanced serological testing and biosecurity. This has resulted in the GB enhanced compartment having the most stringent requirements for any currently operating compartment scheme in the world.
“After comprehensive auditing of procedures and facilities, the APHA has recognized that Cobb Europe operates to the high standards required to be included in the GB Enhanced Compartmentalization Scheme,” said Lyndsey Cassidy.
“Through comprehensive company-wide operating procedures and risk management through strict Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, Cobb facilities maintain separation and prevent notifiable diseases from infecting our livestock.
“This significant achievement has only been realized through the dedication of all our employees with continued investment in education and training. Our whole team are justly proud of their joint efforts to achieve this landmark status.
“As the concept of compartments is embraced by governments worldwide, it will mean our customers can rely on Cobb to maintain product supply and allow their own business to operate predictably and securely.”