Man­ag­ing the ba­sics

The Poultry Bulletin - - CONTENTS - This is an edited ver­sion of an ar­ti­cle sup­plied by David Hughes from a piece on World Poul­try Aug 6, 2013.

Ad­e­quate clean wa­ter and qual­ity feed, ven­ti­la­tion man­age­ment, body weight con­trol, and lit­ter man­age­ment are the ob­vi­ous es­sen­tial com­po­nents. In the ex­pe­ri­ence of Tom Proc­ter and Do­minic Smith of Cobb Europe, if a flock of breed­ers does not per­form well, it of­ten is sim­ply down to ne­glect­ing some of these ba­sic needs.

Main­tain­ing good flock health

The first step in cre­at­ing and im­ple­ment­ing a suc­cess­ful biose­cu­rity pro­gramme is to un­der­stand the risks. Biose­cu­rity is risk man­age­ment and there will al­ways be a bal­ance be­tween cost and biose­cu­rity in­ter­ven­tions. There­fore, a risk as­sess­ment will help de­velop a tar­geted pro­gramme to limit or elim­i­nate the in­tro­duc­tion of dis­ease to the birds.

To un­der­stand the risks it’s im­por­tant to know what avian species are on your door step — the dis­ease pres­sures. This can be com­mer­cial poul­try sites, back­yard chick­ens or lo­cal at­trac­tions such as open wa­ter sources that at­tract large wild bird pop­u­la­tions.

Keep tight con­trol on vis­i­tors

Make it clear that in the in­ter­ests of flock health, strict biose­cu­rity mea­sures are fol­lowed. All gates to the farm should be locked with in­struc­tions for any vis­i­tor to con­tact the site man­ager be­fore en­try on to the site. Make sure that all vis­i­tors have a gen­uine need to at­tend the site and that they sign in a vis­i­tors’ book, stat­ing the rea­son for their pres­ence, and whether they have had con­tact with poul­try in the past 72 hours.

Show­er­ing on site

The best pro­ce­dure is pro­vide a shower and change of cloth­ing and boots for all vis­i­tors as well as em­ploy­ees. More sites are adopt­ing these good pro­ce­dures. At Cobb, they in­sist on all em­ploy­ees and vis­i­tors tak­ing a shower for a timed five min­utes to en­sure no pathogens are en­ter­ing the farm.

Ve­hi­cles and equip­ment

Only es­sen­tial ve­hi­cles and equip­ment should be per­mit­ted on to the farm. If ve­hi­cles have to en­ter, they should be thor­oughly dis­in­fected, pay­ing close at­ten­tion to the ex­te­rior, wheels, and wheel arches. Al­low­ing tools and equip­ment on to the site should also be min­imised, es­pe­cially those that have been used on other farms. Equip­ment brought on to the farm should un­dergo dis­in­fec­tion.

Foot dips and boot chang­ing

Too of­ten foot dips are ne­glected with the wa­ter be­com­ing con­tam­i­nated with leaves and soil, and the dis­in­fec­tant de­ac­ti­vated. Ide­ally, use a cov­ered foot dip out­side each house, mea­sure the di­lu­tion rate ac­cu­rately and change the so­lu­tion ev­ery one to two days.

Al­ter­na­tively boot chang­ing

into the poul­try house is a proven way of re­duc­ing the dis­ease chal­lenge. This is eas­ier to carry out us­ing different coloured boots for in­side and out­side the chicken house. Se­condly, a spe­cific area should be de­fined, such as a phys­i­cal bar­rier or a line on the floor, which will set the bound­aries for us­ing the out­side and in­side boots and limit any cross-con­tam­i­na­tion risks.

Guard against ver­min and wild birds

Check bait­ing points for rats and mice ev­ery week, and make sure the hous­ing is ver­min proof; pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to worn door seals, vents and drain holes. Keep the grass closely mown. Avoid feed spills; a cy­clone is much bet­ter than a sock to cover the feed ex­haust pipe. And lop any over­hang­ing trees or branches to dis­cour­age wild birds.

Staff aware­ness

Biose­cu­rity is only ef­fec­tive if it ap­plies to ev­ery­one all the time. Cre­at­ing a biose­cu­rity cul­ture is crit­i­cal to achieve buy-in from staff - to en­sure for ex­am­ple that boots are dipped and hand sani­tis­ers used ev­ery time. Con­tin­ual train­ing of staff around the crit­i­cal con­trol points and ex­plain­ing their sig­nif­i­cance is a vi­tal part of any biose­cu­rity pro­gramme.

Qual­ity peo­ple can make the dif­fer­ence be­tween the suc­cess and fail­ure of a flock

The fi­nal point is the im­por­tance of com­pe­tent, proac­tive peo­ple in man­ag­ing the birds. The man­age­ment tech­niques are mean­ing­less if the per­son re­spon­si­ble for the birds doesn’t have the cor­rect skill set to get the most out of the flock.

This is where it is im­por­tant for the in­dus­try to at­tract the right cal­i­bre of per­son­nel, which comes down to mak­ing young peo­ple – and their teach­ers and ca­reers ad­vis­ers – aware of the ca­reer po­ten­tial in the mod­ern poul­try in­dus­try. No other sec­tor of farm­ing has such a ca­reer lad­der, and young peo­ple with tal­ent and am­bi­tion can go far.¡

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