Bird flu emphasises biosecurity importance
Bio-security on animal farms and in food processing facilities is an essential step in the prevention of transmittable viruses or diseases from animals to animals – or even from animals to humans, and from humans to animals. Biosecurity is a set of measures calculated to prevent or lessen the risk of disease transmission. The reality however is that effective biosecurity demands that farmers actually change the culture of their enterprise so that everyone on the farm becomes more aware of what’s happening around them.
A failure of processes
If, in spite of your best attempts at biosecurity, an infectious disease breaks out in your flock, more than likely this points to a failure of your systems and processes. Failure often results not because of what you know, but rather because of what you don’t know. This can range from conditions on your farm and those of your neighbours, through to the movements of your employees, the status of maintenance, equipment sharing, who is visiting your facilities, and what they do once they arrive. As you don’t have a handle on everything around you, you could miss some very important risk factors.
Keeping it simple
Showering, wearing protective clothing and washing hands and footwear before entering an animal rearing area or processing plant are all recognised as vitally important - and are usually strictly enforced, but an overly complex and unwieldy biosecurity programme can actually be counter-productive.
“If you have a set of biosecurity rules and procedures so exhaustive that the document would do serious damage if dropped on your foot, you don’t have a plan - you have a problem,” said David Shapiro of Perdue Farms. “Biosecurity rules are intended to reduce risk, but if they are incomprehensible, overwhelming, ignored, outdated or essentially useless, it’s time for an overhaul. Set priorities - if you are considering a new rule, do not think about the rule; think about how much it reduces the risk of disease transmission.”
There is no such thing as spontaneous generation of disease. So if there’s an outbreak at your facility, it’s a reality check, a reminder that your biosecurity failed. Outbreaks can teach some difficult lessons, but it is these lessons - often very costly - that ultimately improve biosecurity standards. This can range from the addition of a few extra measures through to a complete review and overhaul of biosecurity practices and procedures on the farm or processing plant.¡