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Biosecurity measures in Farm Business

Biosecurity is the set of management practices designed to prevent the entry and transmission of pathogens that may affect animal farms’ health. Biosecurity with Extranet is a fundamental part of any poultry business as it provides an increase in animal productivity and an increase in economic yields. In general terms, we must consider the location of the farm, construction characteristics of the ship, control of foreign animals to the farm, cleaning and disinfection of the ship, control visits, avoid animal stress, avoid contamination of feed , Control of vaccinations and medications and control of dejections, corpses and contumaces.

The greatest risk that poultry production can have is not to have a biosecurity plan, hence biosecurity is a fundamental part of any poultry business to reduce the occurrence of diseases in poultry.

The concept of biosecurity in a livestock farm refers to the maintenance of the environment free of microorganisms or at least with a minimum load that does not interfere with animal production. We can define the concept of biosecurity as the set of management practices that are aimed at reducing the entry and transmission of pathogens and their vectors in animal farms. Biosecurity measures are designed to prevent and prevent the entry of pathogens that may affect the health, welfare and technical performance of poultry. Biosecurity, in our opinion, is the cheapest and safest management practice for disease control. No disease prevention program can circumvent a biosecurity plan.

Now we understand that the concept of biosecurity is a much broader concept since it also refers to the physical location of the farm (physical biosecurity) and the design of the farm (structural biosecurity).

Every biosecurity plan should be flexible in nature, easy and practical to apply and versatile, so that it can be adapted to the advances in animal production.

Broadly speaking, any biosecurity program must include the following aspects:

  1. Correct location of the farm.
  2. Constructive characteristics of the ship.
  3. Control of animals from the wild (wild animals, insects, rats, mice, etc.).
  4. Cleaning and disinfection of the ship and livestock equipment.
  5. Use of lots of the same age.
  6. Control of visits and personnel outside the farm.
  7. Avoid animal stress.
  8. Avoid contamination of feed.
  9. Control vaccination and medication programs of animals.
  10. Control of dejections, corpses and contumaces.

1. Location of the farm

It is one of the first aspects to consider when setting a biosafety program and, perhaps, one of the most important factors. Sometimes the success or failure of the biosafety plan will depend on the location of the farm and its isolation.

Regardless of the correct orientation of the ship according to the altitude and latitude of the area, every ship should be kept as far away as possible from other poultry vessels (minimum distance 200 m) or of different species (minimum distance 3 Km). Also, the farm should be kept away and isolated from any urban center, slaughterhouse, garbage dump, etc. In optimal climatic conditions the birds can be infected by microorganisms transported in dust particles by the wind. Among the pathogens most at risk are mycoplasmas, as well as various bacteria and viruses.

The more isolated the farm is, the less likely we are that it can be transited and visited by outside personnel. Ideally, the road or access road to the farm should be used exclusively for the farm personnel, in this way we will reduce the traffic of trucks and people outside the minimum possible.

On the other hand, it is recommended that the access roads be asphalted as the dirt roads generate enough dust as trucks pass, converting dust particles into vehicles that transmit microorganisms.

2. Constructive characteristics of the ship

It is essential to have a good insulation of both ceilings and walls, not only to favor the maintenance of environmental conditions of optimal temperature and humidity, but also to be able to carry out a biosafety plan.

Controlled environment ships will not avoid this risk unless they have filters for bacteria and viruses at the entrance of the air intake.

The ship must be isolated from the outside as much as possible, in such a way as to prevent the access of wild animals, insects, mice or rats.

The farm must be fenced (at least 2 m high) around its perimeter with only two entrances, one for foot staff and one for vehicles, both doors being closed all the time. Keeping about 5 meters outside the fence free of vegetation.

3. Control of strange animals to the ship

Special care must be taken with insects (mainly flies and mosquitoes) as they are the main vehicles transmitting diseases. That is why we carry out an exhaustive control of them throughout the production cycle, as well as the corresponding prevention treatments taking advantage of the days of sanitary vacuum.

Regarding rats and mice, we can remember that these can travel up to 2 km. The risk is due to the arrival of rodents from other farms and the diffusion through feed contaminated by feces of rodents.

On the other hand, birds also represent a potential risk as vectors of pathogens, mainly salmonella.

Finally, we must avoid the presence inside the ship of domestic animals (dogs and cats).

4. Cleaning and disinfection of the ship and the tooling

Without a good cleaning and disinfection of the ship we can not pursue the ultimate goal of any biosecurity plan that is maintenance of the ship free of microorganisms.

Apart from the daily cleaning tasks, which are based on the livestock species and the operating system used; Taking advantage of the sanitary voids of the ship between lot and lot of animals (all system inside all outside), we will carry out a complete cleaning and disinfection of the ship. To do this, we will dismantle and remove all material and livestock equipment that can be dismantled. The ship will be swept, washed and thoroughly cleaned.

Avoid exposing new birds, including day-old chicks, to contact with feces, feathers, dust and organic waste from the previous batch, as some pathogens die quickly, others survive for a long time if conditions are ( See Table 1 ).

At the time of the reception of a new batch of birds, it is advisable to check the heating system, ventilation, automatic feed distribution, drinking troughs, etc., on the previous day to check that everything works Correctly before the arrival of new birds.

So that you do not forget any aspect of the cleaning it would be advisable that we make a list with the main tasks to develop.

During the period of sanitary evacuation we must carry out the following tasks:

  1. Dismantle the material and livestock equipment (feeders, drinking troughs, cages, fans, wheelbarrows, etc.) and remove it to the outside, for later washing and disinfecting it. Outside the ship we have a very effective natural disinfectant such as ultraviolet rays of sunlight, which are tremendously potent in the elimination of microorganisms, an action that is enhanced by drying outdoors. Also, in this phase the use of the torch can be used for the removal of organic remains as feathers.
  2. When it exists, it will be necessary to remove the old litter and store it in a place as far as possible from the ship, until its later destruction or sale as manure.
  3. Thorough sweeping of the exploitation and scraping of the remains of organic matter and droppings that can not be removed by simple sweeping. Also, a dry cleaning of lights, ceilings, fixed parts of different appliances, fans, blinds, etc will be carried out to avoid the accumulation of dust in these parts. Remove the cobwebs. Good cleaning and sweeping are essential, as organic matter debris interferes with the action of the disinfectants either because they form a coating barrier or because they react chemically with the disinfectant by neutralizing it.
  4. Later cleaning with water under pressure (50-80 atmospheres). With this we will make the subsequent application of the disinfectant as effective as possible. For cleaning with water we have to follow some basic rules: first water is poured, second is washed and third is rinsed.
    With the wet cleaning we are going to get reduce the dust particles inside.
    If possible it is recommended to use hot water as it has a greater capacity to carry away the remains of dirt and, in addition, most disinfectants act better with hot water. A high-pressure pump for this task would be very useful.
    After washing the ship it is very convenient to remove all traces of detergents since they can neutralize the action of the disinfectants that we use later.
  5. Once the ship is clean and dry we will carry out the disinfection task. The application of disinfectants can be sprayed or fumigated. Most disinfectants act at an ambient temperature of 20-22 ° C.
    It is imperative to follow the safety regulations of the disinfectant manufacturer at the time of application in terms of the dose, dilutions, waiting times, protection for the personnel in charge Of their application (gloves, masks, boots, etc).
    The best disinfectant is formaldehyde. Generally it is used by fumigation, for which all windows and doors must be closed well for the gases to act. The method of fumigation is preferred to that of the spray as the gases are able to reach all the corners and grooves of the ship.

Other disinfectants used are:

  • Phenols: phenols are carbon – pitch derivatives. They have a characteristic smell and become milky in the water. Phenols are very effective against bacterial agents and are also effective against fungi and many viruses. Its most common uses in commercial livestock units include: incubation halls, sanitation equipment and foot mats.
  • Quaternary Ammonium: Quaternary ammonium compounds are generally odorless, colorless, non-irritating, and deodorant. They also have some detergent action, and are good disinfectants. However, some quaternary ammonium compounds are inactive in the presence of soap or soap residues. Its antibacterial activity is reduced with the presence of organic material. Quaternary ammonium compounds are effective against bacteria and somewhat effective against fungi and viruses. These compounds are widely used in commercial hatcheries.
  • Iodophors: iodine compounds are a combination of elemental iodine and a substance that makes iodine soluble in water. They are good disinfectants, but they do not work well in the presence of organic material. They are effective against bacteria, fungi, and many viruses. Iodine is the least toxic of disinfectants. Many iodine products can stain clothes and porous surfaces.
  • Hypochlorites: Chlorine compounds are good disinfectants on clean surfaces, but are rapidly inactivated by dirt. Chlorine is effective against bacteria and many viruses. These compounds are also much more active in hot water than in cold water. Chlorine solutions can irritate the skin and are corrosive to the metal. They are relatively inexpensive.
  • Peroxides: Hydrogen peroxide is used in poultry operations. They are active against bacteria, bacterial spores, viruses, and fungi at very low concentrations. The common hydrogen peroxide can be used by mixing 30 cc in 100 liters of drinking water to disinfect the drinking troughs.

When choosing a disinfectant or another we have to take into account a number of aspects:

    • Its economic cost.
    • Its effectiveness. It must be effective against an extended range of pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, etc.).
    • We must take into account the species of livestock in question.
    • Do not be toxic to animals and safe for operators.
    • Its residual activity. You should not leave residues in the meat.
    • Its activity with organic matter and soap. Must be able to penetrate organic matter.
    • Its effectiveness on fabrics and metals.
    • Its solubility.
    • Time of contact. All disinfectants require a minimum contact time to show their effectiveness. No one acts immediately.
    • Ambient temperature in which they show more efficiency.

Mode of application of disinfectants:

    • Use the concentration recommended by the manufacturer and proven effective against pathogens.
    • Use a suitable volume in such a way that both walls and floors are well impregnated. A recommended application volume could be 300 ml / m 2 of surface to be treated. On porous surfaces the volume can be expanded.
    • Leave the disinfectant to work during the minimum contact time, which is usually at least 30 minutes.

When using disinfection equipment that has been previously used in other ships we have to make sure that they are clean, as sometimes these equipment can act as transmission vehicles of microorganisms between farm and farm.

F. Disinfestation, as well as de-rooting and de-ratting can be carried out to help control insects, mice and rats.

G. Taking advantage of the sanitary void can also be carried out a control of water quality through physical-chemical and microbiological analysis. We can also carry out chlorination treatments of drinking water at a rate of 3 ppm. For this we use the familiar bleach, diluted sodium hypochlorite.

Once the ship is cleaned, disinfected and disinfected, we will be able to put all the material that we have previously removed and cleaned, as well as to replace clean bedding if the livestock species requires it.

5. Uniformity of batches

Use of lots of the same age, as this will reduce the contamination of adult animals to the younger. If you have to accommodate lots of different ages, the ships of the same lot must be separated.

When a new animal is introduced to the farm it must go through a quarantine period (at least 4 weeks), where it will be observed to detect any signs of disease. During this period we can use to perform blood tests for the diagnosis of infectious and parasitic diseases.

6. Control of visits and farm staff

As far as possible we should minimize the visits of foreign personnel to the ship, although we are aware that this is very difficult to obtain, so it is necessary to have a biosafety program in relation to the visits. Remember that infectious diseases can spread from one farm to another through the clothing and footwear of visitors or staff moving from ship to ship of different batches of birds.

Prior to the entry of the vehicles, they will be washed, for which they will have the corresponding washing equipment or a wheel with the relevant disinfectant solution. The wheel will need to cover the wheels of the vehicle. The most dangerous areas of the trucks are usually the cargo lifts, the cabin and the low ones; Along with the footwear and clothes of the truckers.

In the same way the entrance of all the personnel to the exploitation will be made previous shower, putting a special emphasis in the washing of hair and nails. The interior of the ship will be accessed with clothing and footwear for this purpose, in the best hygienic conditions possible and that should only be used for that farm. In the shower room there should be two areas, clean area and dirty area, and the movement should be in one direction only.

It is advisable to have a visitor log book that specifies: name of visitor, company, reason for the visit, date and last place where contact with animals took place.

At the entrance of the ship a pediluvium will be placed for the disinfection of the footwear. The pediluvium will be filled with a disinfectant solution that is not affected by the temperature and by the sun’s rays. This solution must be renewed at least once a week, being very important the cleaning of the boots before submerging them in the pediluvium. This is one of the most delicate points and one that should be given more attention, since in 90% of microbial contaminations man acts as a transmitter.

The transit of the personnel must always be from the youngest to the oldest. It is convenient to wash our hands when handling birds of different batches or ages.

Finally, we strongly recommend that staff working on the farm do not have birds in their house.

7. Avoid stress of animals

We must avoid stressful situations throughout the productive cycle, since this can deplete the immune system of birds and be an ideal opportunity for certain microorganisms that until that date had been maintained in a latent way.

In this sense, we will monitor the presence of any stressors (noise, excess light, strange odors, presence of personnel outside the farm, presence of other animals, maladaptation to accommodation systems, etc.)

A special mention requires acoustic contamination of animals. As far as possible, the exploitation should be as far away as possible from the main means of communication. Monitor the maintenance of ventilation equipment and automatic feed distribution so that they do not exceed certain decibels.

8. Avoid contamination of feed

Sometimes it is the own feed the transmitting vehicle of microorganisms, especially for certain fungi like Aspergillus flavus . We must avoid the humidity in the places of storage of the feed and in the silos, since the excess of humidity favors the growth and multiplication of the fungi. Periodically clean and disinfect food silos. Always have two silos and disinfect while making alternate use of them.

To reduce risks, it is recommended to use feeds that have undergone heat treatments.

9. Control vaccination programs and medication of animals

We must strictly follow the schedule of vaccinations established for this purpose by the veterinarian, which will include those diseases of compulsory vaccination and optional vaccines depending on the area in question.

The person in charge of the vaccination must have a perfect knowledge of the vaccine in question (dose, form of application, intervals of revaccination, etc.). Always use the previously disinfected material.

It is advisable to keep a record of the day of vaccination, the lot of vaccine used, type of vaccine, date of expiration, etc.

Finally, to say that the birds will not be vaccinated in situation of stress, since they can have problems when being diminished the immune system.

10. Control of dejections, corpses and contumaces

The farm must have a waste management system that complies with current regulations including the discharge record in wastewater.

Likewise, we must have a pit for corpses or an incinerator. In the latter case, it must be in good condition and comply with all legal requirements.

All debris such as dead birds, broken eggs or other biological remains must be deposited in septic tanks designed for this purpose with hermetic cap.


The establishment of a biosecurity program in a poultry farm will provide an increase in animal productivity and an increase in economic returns. Also, the use of certain antimicrobials will be reduced, which will reduce antibiotic residues in the eggs and in the channels of the chickens.

It is necessary to design a biosafety plan that contemplates each one of the points discussed above in a routine way that allows us to control and follow up on a controlled form of all the measures of biosecurity that we have contemplated.

Finally, to say that biosafety programs should never be seen as an unnecessary cost imposed by technicians but as an investment with a profitability in the short and medium term.

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