Before Sanderson Farms chicken is placed in stores, it is inspected for quality, tested for food safety, and processed in compliance with UDSA regulation, but the work of producing safe, wholesome chicken products begins long before the product leaves the processing facility starts on the farm. Each family farmer and Sanderson Farms live production employee implements the Company’s biosecurity program with the oversight of the corporate veterinarians who developed it.
“Biosecurity can be defined simply as the procedures put in place to reduce the risk of disease in a population of animals,” said Dr. Phil Stayer, Sanderson Farms Corporate Veterinarian. “Because every encounter with another living creature is an opportunity to expose the chickens to disease causing agents, all other living things, including caretakers and workers, should be on a farm housing Sanderson Farms chickens only as necessary for the well-being of the flock.”
It’s not just food safety that’s at risk when birds become ill. Failure to follow biosecurity procedures can lead to decreased bird growth and increased mortality, which affects farmers’ livelihoods. In severe situations, such as widespread avian influenza outbreaks, flocks across entire geographical regions must be culled, impacting the economy and even global trade.
To avoid the potentially devastating ramifications caused by widespread poultry illness, Sanderson Farms works closely with farmers and production employees to ensure biosecurity measures are in place. These procedures are carefully implemented with the goal of limiting the introduction and potential spread of any disease-causing agents. The company’s biosecurity program has exact specifications for pullet, breeder, and broiler farms.
First and foremost, anyone who works on or visits a farm is to avoid contact with any avian species, from other chickens to wild and pet birds. Only company-approved visitors and service personnel are allowed to enter chicken houses and must use appropriate poultry protective equipment, including stepping in a disinfectant footbath, prior to entry.
Other important topics covered in the biosecurity programs include vehicle traffic on farms, chicken house maintenance, and non-poultry animal control. As risk of disease increases because of the identification of diseases in nearby chickens, biosecurity measures are heightened. To keep all parties current on the annually updated policies, all Sanderson Farms employees and family farmers are trained by their supervisors each year.
“The biosecurity program is only as good as its implementation and breaches in protocol can create disastrous results,” said Dr. Stayer. “At Sanderson Farms, we work together to follow all biosecurity procedures and best practices to protect our flocks from illnesses. The future success of the company depends on it.”