What is Biosecurity?
Biosecurity means taking steps to make sure that good hygiene practices are in place. This will help prevent the spread of isease. Disease may not always be apparent, especially in the early stages.

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What is Biosecurity?
Biosecurity means taking steps to make sure that good hygiene practices are in place. This will help prevent the spread of disease.

Disease may not always be apparent, especially in the early stages.

Be clean when handling birds or moving between different premises. Preventing disease-causing germs or microbes from entering your premises is the key to flock health.

A good biosecurity routine is always essential – not just when there is a major disease outbreak.

What are the benefits?
Good biosecurity:

  • Helps keep out exotic poultry diseases such as Avian flu and Newcastle Disease
  • Reduces the risk of zoonotic diseases such as salmonella becoming established
  • Limits the spread of diseases and helps to protect your neighbours, public health and the countryside
  • Improves overall flock health
  • Reduces losses

How does disease spread?
Microbes travel from place to place via animals, vehicles, equipment, and people . Disease is spread through:

  • Movement of poultry, people, vehicles and equipment
  • The introduction of birds of low or unknown health status
  • Contact with other flocks
  • Using shared equipment and vehicles, which have not been effectively cleansed and disinfected
  • Contact with vermin and wild birds
  • Birds drinking from contaminated water sources
  • Birds eating contaminated feed and
  • Unsatisfactory cleansing and disinfection of vehicles, sheds, feeding troughs and other equipment. Many germs die in two or three days but, under certain conditions (such as cold damp surroundings), they survive much longer.

Even with a short, one-day survival, germs can travel several hundred miles when clinging to animals, people and equipment.

What Actions can I take?

  • Feed and water free range birds indoors where possible to reduce mixing between your birds and wild birds.
  • If you have free range birds you should plan how you will manage them if there is a need to isolate them from wild birds.
  • Keep accurate and up-to-date records to ensure that your produce is fully traceable.
  • If you have other people looking after your birds, give them the information and training they need to maintain strict standards of hygiene and biosecurity at all times.

How do I stop disease?

  • Do not bring infection from a farm on your clothes, footwear or hands.
  • Clean and disinfect vehicles after visiting a farm.
  • Limit and control access to poultry flocks.
  • Have pressure washers, brushes, hoses, water and an approved disinfectant available.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect all crates, containers and other equipment before and after use.
  • Minimise contact between poultry and wild birds.
  • Prevent accumulation of standing water and remove spilled feed that could attract wild birds.
  • Maintain buildings to ensure that wild birds do not nest or roost in them.
  • Keep wild birds, dogs, cats, rodents or other livestock out of poultry buildings and feed stores.
  • Have an active rodent and pest control system in place. Be vigilant for evidence of vermin. Monitor vermin activity by baiting and trapping.
  • Supply only clean fresh drinking water to birds. Water lines and drinkers must be flushed through and cleaned regularly.
  • Feed bins, hoppers and feeding equipment must be cleaned and maintained regularly.
  • Feed silos and containers must be sealed to prevent animals and wild birds contaminating feed.
  • Feed should only be obtained from a supplier that operates in accordance with relevant Defra Codes of Practice.
  • Damaged eggs, dead birds, litter and manure may carry disease. Dispose them promptly and properly.
  • Disinfect the coup and all equipment (including ducting, drains, etc.) and carry out rodent and other pest control. Cleaning equipment and protective clothing should also be cleaned and disinfected.

What should I consider when buying new stock?

  • Make sure you know the health status of any birds you are buying or moving.
  • Incoming stock should be isolated from the rest of the flock initially.
  • Only place new stock in facilities which you know have been cleansed and disinfected.
  • Keep isolation buildings separate from other poultry buildings. Use separate equipment when handling isolated stock.
  • Wash hands and boots before going back to your main flock buildings.
  • Raising different types of fowl can be risky from a disease point of view. Microbes that cause little or no harm to one type of fowl can be devastating to another. For example, influenza viruses, though common and usually not bothersome in waterfowl, can produce severe disease in chickens and turkeys.

What else can I do?
Be vigilant! Look out for signs of disease in your flock. Increased mortality, falling egg production and respiratory distress may be early signs of a disease problem. If you suspect disease, ask your veterinarian for advice as soon as possible. Some diseases can spread very quickly! Avian influenza and Newcastle Disease are notifiable diseases.

Always practice good biosecurity. You have a lot to gain if you do and much to lose if you don't.

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