Lessons in Biosecurity

By Shawn Carlton, North America Technical Support Specialist

Our farms are our businesses, and ultimately our livelihood, and therefore a good biosecurity program should be a part of every farm management and poultry production plan.
At Cobb, we know how important a strict biosecurity policy is and we stress this to our team members and our customers. Since we help supply breeding stock to the world, it is vital for us to be free of disease. The most recent avian influenza to hit the U.S. was from December 2014 to June 2015 where more than 48 million birds — mostly turkeys, commercial layers and hobby flocks — were lost to the disease with more than $700 million in federal funds used to deal with and clean up from this outbreak.
The broiler industry can be viewed as a pyramid, with the pure line pedigree birds at the top. One pedigree hen is responsible for more than 4 million broiler birds in a span of four to five years. The value of that amount of meat is worth millions for a broiler company. As a company or a grower, you need to protect the birds throughout the production pyramid by implementing a strong biosecurity program to prevent the introduction of disease into a flock or its spread.


Biosecurity Basics

1. Always follow the “age rule.” You always visit youngest birds to oldest birds and should never go the other way.

2. Always keep a logbook of who is entering your farm with:

  • Full name
  • The last time they had contact with poultry and where
  • Date and reason for the visit.
  • If the flock last visited was sick

3. Limit all vehicular traffic on to a farm. Have a vehicle dedicated to the farm if needed.

4. Always wear shoe covers, coveralls, hair-nets, gloves and remove all personal items (such as phones, wallet, keys, etc.) to ensure you are not going to bring disease agents into the flock you are visiting. Having dedicated farm footwear — and even footwear dedicated to a specific house — is a simple step to keep the “bad bugs” out.

5. Always use foot baths and hand sanitizer at specific points of entry before having bird contact, for example at first entry point into the house and again at entry into the birds.

6. Always have biosecurity procedures posted, but more importantly be sure all personnel and growers have been trained and understand the procedures and policies.

7. Always wash and disinfect tires, foot peddles, steering wheel, seats and floors of vehicles entering the farm, using a combination of wet disinfection by sprayer, aerosol sprays (e.g. Lysol) and disinfectant wipes.

8. Always keep biosecurity signs clearly posted to restrict visitors on the farm.

9. Be cautious of local gathering places for growers, such as restaurants, coffee and hairdressing shops.

10. Growers and farm caretakers must avoid visiting other avian species (e.g. pet/farm stores, especially in spring when they are selling “chicks,” county fairs and bird hunting).

11. It is not recommended to share equipment between farms, especially when birds are present.

12. Always maintain effective pest control measures, particularly for rodents, flies and litter beetles.

13. Do not allow pets, livestock, wild animals or wild birds to enter houses.

14. Always keep doors to houses locked. It is vital to follow a good biosecurity program to keep flocks safe. By practicing these biosecurity procedures every day, you reduce the possibility of attracting disease and keep your birds safe and healthy.

Rodent control

A good rodent control program is critical in your biosecurity program. Mice and rats can carry over 40 diseases such as mycoplasma, salmonella and cholera, which can easily be spread from house to house, farm-to-farm and even within a region.
Rodents also cost growers and companies thousands of dollars in baiting programs, destruction of housing and insulation and higher costs from energy losses with many houses showing serious deterioration within four to five years of being built.
Remove the points of harborages or entry for rodents:

  • Gravel around the entire house 2 to 3 feet around the drip line.
  • Cut grass and vegetation close to houses.
  • Spray around houses and fence lines to kill vegetation.
  • When mowing near the house, mow closest to the house first then move toward the perimeter.
  • Mow with clippings blowing “away” from the house.
  • Trim or remove trees near houses.
  • Obvious food and water sources such as spilled feed and garbage, or leaky pipes, must be eliminated.
  • Clean-up all feed spills immediately.
  • Avoid trash and equipment storage near houses Dispose of dead birds each day (incinerator
  • or compost).
  • Keep grass trimmed or sprayed near houses. Utilize baiting boxes around entire perimeter.
  • Keep a record of baiting station monitoring and location/placement of the bait.

Preparation for rodent control

Outside house:

  • Bait boxes should be placed at least of every 50 to 100 feet outside the house.
  • Check each bait box at least once a month.
  • Increase to every other week or weekly if activity is observed.
  • Place bait boxes every 50 to 100 feet around the perimeter of the houses.
  • Use only company approved baiting options and rotate products at least every six months.

Inside house:

  • Baiting stations should be set up throughout the house by the doors, work stations and slats.
  • Maintain and check inside bait boxes every week.
  • Place bait stations in high rodent traffic areas.
  • Eliminate points of entry.

Other facilities:

Bait stations should also be maintained and monitored in generator sheds, equipment/storage/maintenance buildings, egg facilities, shavings shed, well houses, etc.

Insect control

Insects can carry poultry diseases, so it is important that they’re controlled. There are various insecticides and actions to control and combat insects and other pests.

  • After the house has been washed and dried, apply an approved insecticide for insect control.
  • Apply approved insecticide to the outside of the house, concentrating on the eaves, foundations, and any openings such as doors, fans and air inlets.
  • Apply approved insecticides inside the house as needed. Be aware not all insecticides are approved for use with birds present.
  • Follow an insecticide rotation program.
  • Always follow the label instructions for product use.

Educate and Execute
One key aspect about a good biosecurity program is that everyone must know it! It is very important that every person involved and/or having contact with your birds is educated in your biosecurity program. Train and re-train growers, farm workers and staff on a regular basis.
Execution is the key to a successful biosecurity program and people are often the weakest link!
Established and trained biosecurity procedures and policies are very important — but remember to keep them practical. If complicated, they probably won’t happen each and every day.
Biosecurity is considered a good investment and may be the only alternative in controlling disease when treatment and/or vaccination are not options. People are considered the single most important culprit in introducing disease to a farm. Each employee must place importance on good biosecurity. Remember, “a company is only as good as its people.”

Related Articles

How to Prevent Mycoplasma

Cobb’s comprehensive, proactive biosecurity standards are designed to keep birds safe and healthy an

Biosecurity Checklist for Spring

Each spring, along with the onset of warmer weather and longer days, comes the arrival of budding tr

9 Tips To Control Inflammatory Process In Broilers

Dr. Algis Martinez, senior veterinarian at Cobb-Vantress, outlines nine strategies to help prevent i

Cobb's Top 5 Biosecurity Best Practices

At Cobb, biosecurity means preventing the introduction and spread of disease or contamination among

8 Steps to a Complete House Clean Out

Cobb takes a comprehensive, proactive approach to biosecurity by creating a safe and healthy environ

Antibiotic-Free Poultry Production

In today’s poultry production world, most companies are using antibacterial wipes to reduce bacteria

Mobile App

Get the Mobile App

Available on Google play and the App Store