Poultry and biosecurity

As a farmer, or member of a farm’s staff team, you have an important role to play in the protection of your farm’s poultry. Chickens are one of the most easily stressed farm animals around, and in the past, there have been many diseases spread by these birds. It’s important to have good a biosecurity regime to establish disease barriers on your farm.

There are three types of disease barrier that should be established on a farm: physical, chemical, and logical. This may seem complex, but it’s crucial that you and your farm hands are dedicated to ensuring that disease and infection are controlled on your farm. A physical disease barrier keeps disease from making contact with your animals, a chemical barrier kills diseases by way of sanitation and disinfection, and a logical barrier ensures that you and your staff are implementing the correct management processes to minimise the risk of disease.

All farmers should endeavour to complete and sign a biosecurity plan for their farm and keep it on file. This ensures that the farm can prove they had a plan in place in case implications of an outbreak of disease take place. One of your employees on your farm should be declared as the biosecurity plan coordinator, and each of your staff members should have training records for biosecurity. There should also be personal protective equipment on-site for all employees, and all areas of the farm should have their own listed cleaning routines and schedules to clean and disinfect all housing areas, food areas, machines, and floors. Water on-site should also be regularly tested to ensure that it’s free of contaminants.

Try to keep safe disinfectant wipes in several areas on-site, these are particularly useful to quickly wipe down items or surfaces. Wipes should be anti-bacterial and antiviral. Of course, wipes are not a replacement for full cleaning regiments, and your farm will also benefit from an effective peroxygen-based disinfectant to use on surfaces, equipment, and water systems.

Another, more heavy-duty ammonium-based disinfectant would also be helpful to carry on-site. This type of disinfectant can be used on flooring, surfaces, and equipment, and is typically applied via a pressure washer. It should be non-corrosive, foaming, DEFRA approved for Diseases of Poultry and General Orders, and effective on organic matter like waste.

As mentioned at the start of this piece, chickens are easily stressed, but they also live full lives from breeding to growing. While handling chickens, it’s important for farmers to use anti-bacterial soaps and handwashes, and also keep the areas that the chickens use as clean as possible when the area is free of poultry. Cleaning an area while there are still chickens running around it can cause them to get stressed, and many chickens suffer from stress-related illnesses far too easily. Once they’re clear and off somewhere else, start disinfecting everything from water systems and equipment to housing, and remember to keep their food area clean, as well as the area that they sleep and/or lay eggs in.