5 steps to improve biosecurity on farms
How much protection is needed? What diseases do you need to prevent? How much can you justify to spend on insurance? These are some of the questions every producer should answer to establish biosecurity protocols.
"Biosecurity is inconvenient," recognizes Travis Schaal, director of GP Production & Internal Vet Services at Hy-Line International. Nevertheless, Schaal considers that without good biosecurity protocols, it can be more expensive for a producer to deal with the consequences of not protecting animals from diseases or harmful biological agents.
In his presentation at the 2018 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE), Biosecurity for Egg Producers and Breeders, Schaal went over a list of suggestions to improve biosecurity in farms.
1. Understanding biosecurity
Schaal recommends asking yourself these questions: How much protection is needed? What diseases do you need to prevent? What is your financial disease risk relative to the cost of prevention or control by other methods (like vaccination)? How much can you justify to spend on insurance?
After this analysis, producers may notice that it can be worse for them not to have these biosecurity procedures than establishing them as a preventive step.
2. Hire a biosecurity officer
Biosecurity is complicated and changeable, says Schaal. With a biosecurity officer, producers will have a person with qualifications and training that can develop a biosecurity program appropriate for the farm.
3. Develop a biosecurity program
Schaal suggests following the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) 14 standards, ranging from biosecurity responsibility, training, perimeter buffer area (PBA) to equipment, mortality disposals and water supplies.
For the program, it is important to describe the facilities to implement washing, the standard operating procedures to follow and the audits, incentives and enforcement that are going to be needed.
The Hy-Line International specialist also recommends addressing these “critical control points”: knowing everything outside the barn door “is contaminated” and understanding “all facility inputs/outputs” to address all the biosecurity measures needed to avoid contamination (that may come also from visitors, delivery trucks, job applicants, etc).
Other sources of contamination to take into account are: vaccinations (vaccine equipment and crews clothing and shoes), pullet movement (trucks, carts, crews), manure hauling equipment (truck, skid or pay loaders), and depopulation (carbon dioxide carts, gas tanks, crews). “All are potentially shared and difficult and expensive to clean.”
4. Put up biosecurity signs
As part of the biosecurity program, it is important to put up visible and understandable signs to avoid people entering barns or restricted areas, to specify the correct way of cleaning and disinfecting and to explain to the staff or visitors why it is important to follow the biosecurity standards.
5. Educate and train staff
Last but not least, Schaad suggests that producers educate and train the staff about biosecurity procedures, something he calls cultural biosecurity. “Compliance depends on understanding the program,” and that’s why he suggests explaining to the employees why procedures are important and providing them choices on footwear and clothing. It may take time and repetition, but it will improve.
Schaad also recommends to establish a record procedure, because “if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.”