C heap but ef­fec­tive dis­ease con­trol

The Poultry Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - This ar­ti­cle was orig­i­nally writ­ten by Malesedi Mok­goatl­heng of SAPA’S Poul­try Dis­ease Man­age­ment Agency

Biose­cu­rity is a ‘big’ word that, for many small-scale poul­try farm­ers, makes them think of govern­ment in­tru­sion, reg­u­la­tions and poli­cies. How­ever, biose­cu­rity is a ba­sic and fun­da­men­tal re­quire­ment that any­one rear­ing chick­ens should be aware of if they want to pro­tect their flock.

With lim­ited biose­cu­rity im­ple­men­ta­tion – or none at all, a back­yard or small-scale poul­try pro­ducer is at a high risk from in­fec­tious dis­eases such as New­cas­tle dis­ease and Salmonella – not to men­tion Highly Pathogenic Avian In­fluenza (HPAI).

To pre­vent and avoid in­fec­tious poul­try dis­eases, some that are also a threat to hu­man health, na­tional flock health and the econ­omy, there is a need to im­ple­ment ba­sic biose­cu­rity mea­sures in small-scale back­yard chicken

Ben­ter­prises. Biose­cu­rity should be a reg­u­lated stan­dard mea­sure, im­ple­mented in all pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties or places that rear poul­try. It is the cheap­est and most ef­fec­tive method of dis­ease con­trol in poul­try.

What is biose­cu­rity?

iose­cu­rity is a mea­sure im­ple­mented in farms, mostly com­mer­cial, to pre­vent the in­tro­duc­tion and per­sis­tence of in­fec­tious agents through con­trol of traf­fic (peo­ple and ve­hi­cles), proper ad­e­quate san­i­ta­tion, and the iso­la­tion of flocks, par­tic­u­larly young chicks. Biose­cu­rity lit­er­ally means pro­vi­sion of safety to liv­ing things - ‘bio’ refers to life and ‘se­cu­rity’ means pro­tec­tion.

A broiler farm­ers’ day in Polok­wane was held to ed­u­cate and share in­for­ma­tion with small-scale farm­ers on broiler pro­duc­tion, man­age­ment and dis­ease pre­ven­tion. I was given the op­por­tu­nity to do a pre­sen­ta­tion on biose­cu­rity as a form of dis­ease pre­ven­tion to a broiler pro­ducer com­mu­nity that was rear­ing and pro­duc­ing 5 500 birds per week, weigh­ing be­tween 370g and 400g at slaugh­ter.

To demon­strate how low the biose­cu­rity mea­sures were in these flocks, the broiler houses were lo­cated and fenced with res­i­den­tial houses. There was no en­trance gate for hu­man and ve­hi­cle traf­fic con­trol and re­stric­tion of move­ment of ve­hi­cles. There was no con­trol or records of the visi­tors, and no farm safety clothes and shoes. Cook­ing of poul­try and other poul­try prod­ucts took place on the farm, and no ro­dent, wild birds or for­eign an­i­mal iso­la­tion pro­grammes were in place. A mor­tal­ity

pit was not avail­able, and the com­mu­nity ate and sold birds that had died from un­known dis­eases to peo­ple in the same com­mu­nity. Feed and bed­ding was not stored in a se­cure place.

All of the fac­tors above are some very sim­ple ba­sic biose­cu­rity mea­sures that needed to be im­ple­mented by the com­mu­nity, but be­cause they did not un­der­stand how op­er­a­tional biose­cu­rity works on a farm, I gave them a few im­por­tant point­ers.

Biose­cu­rity ben­e­fits

With the aim of pre­vent­ing the en­try of pathogenic or­gan­isms onto the farm, avoid­ing profit losses due to dis­eases, and to pro­tect hu­man health, biose­cu­rity helps keep out dis­eases and limit their spread, pro­tects hu­man health, im­proves the over­all health of the flock, re­duces mor­tal­ity and in­creases prof­itabil­ity.

The three ma­jor biose­cu­rity mea­sures re­quired to con­trol the spread of dis­eases are to iso­late birds in dif­fer­ent houses and far away from con­tact with or­di­nary peo­ple; con­trol the traf­fic of both peo­ple and ve­hi­cles; and san­i­ta­tion.

Record keep­ing as part of a dis­ease pre­ven­tion biose­cu­rity plan in­cludes not­ing who was on the farm, when they were there, what brought them onto the farm, and whether they had been on an­other poul­try fa­cil­ity.

Back­yard biose­cu­rity

What should we do go­ing for­ward? Given the cur­rent dis­ease sta­tus at poul­try farms in South Africa, many may agree on the im­por­tance of shift­ing fo­cus, in­vest­ing time and stan­dar­d­is­ing poli­cies to im­ple­ment op­er­a­tional biose­cu­rity mea­sures on small-scale and back­yard farms through ed­u­ca­tional pro­grammes and prac­ti­cal train­ing.

In 2013 an out­break of New­cas­tle dis­ease from a back­yard flock was re­ported, but ow­ing to a lack of re­port­ing and co-or­di­na­tion, the dis­ease spread into some com­mer­cial farms, af­fect­ing the in­dus­try’s econ­omy and pro­duc­tion. Once an out­break of in­fec­tious dis­ease like New­cas­tle breaks out and be­comes es­tab­lished and en­demic in the coun­try, it is very dif­fi­cult to erad­i­cate these from the farm - and con­trol is both time con­sum­ing and costly.

Given the threat posed to poul­try by in­fec­tious dis­eases such as New­cas­tle as well as other zoonotic dis­eases in small­holder poul­try flocks, a com­pre­hen­sive plan or pro­gramme to iden­tify sim­pler and adap­tive meth­ods or ways of im­ple­ment­ing biose­cu­rity mea­sures in the small­holder poul­try flocks, as well as ed­u­cate farm­ers, is con­tin­u­ally re­quired. Its sole pur­pose is to pro­tect the na­tional flock through ed­u­ca­tion, mon­i­tor­ing and man­age­ment of dis­eases that threaten the health of the flock, and there­fore food se­cu­rity.¡

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