Guest Columnist Helen Wojcinski DVM DVSC ACPV, Wojcinski Poultry Health Consulting LLC
When it comes to biosecurity when all is said and done, more is said than actually done. To have an effective biosecurity program on your farm, it’s critical that all components are consistently implemented and followed by everyone—no exceptions.
The following steps are necessary to eliminate disease agents from your farm:
Know the enemy and get an accurate disease diagnosis
Sometimes there are multiple disease agents on a farm. By accurately identifying them, you’re in a better position to eliminate both active and underlying challenges. Is it just E. coli causing the problem or was the flock exposed to Bordetella or Newcastle virus earlier?
We understand how many disease agents operate. Rodents and other four-footed pests are the primary vectors for Fowl Cholera, while Bordetella is transmitted through contaminated water systems. We also know the susceptibilities and strengths of many disease agents. Clostridial bacteria, which cause Dermatitis/Cellulitis, can form spores making them virtually indestructible, while E. coli and Salmonella are sensitive to most disinfectants when cleaning is done correctly.
When a disease outbreak occurs, revisit your biosecurity program to ensure it’s being followed the way you intended
This means you should have a written biosecurity program that includes a sanitation program and standard operating procedures for anything or anyone that crosses the boundary lines—from dirty to clean zone—within your farm premises.
Ensuring procedures are correctly followed can mean the difference between successfully eliminating a disease agent and failing to. When programs fail, it is often not what you did, but rather how you did it. Many excellent programs fail because they weren’t implemented correctly. For example, failure to effectively clean and disinfect the water system in your barn may be because the wrong product or incorrect concentration was used, or was used at the wrong time. If the program is being followed correctly but disease challenges are still occurring, the program needs to change. Disease agents continue to adapt, evolve and become more resistant which means our programs to eliminate them need to do the same.
Take advantage of the window of opportunity to eliminate disease agents each time a flock leaves the farm
It’s important to maximize your effective dry downtime, which is the number of days that a cleaned and disinfected barn remains empty. The minimum is 7 days but greater health issues will require an increase in dry downtime. While the program may need to be customized for a specific disease agent, in general, the following comprehensive measures should be implemented:
Once the barn has been cleaned and disinfected, treat it as a BIOSECURE area and do not contaminate it during set-up or bird placement.
Monitor your biosecurity and sanitation programs
Monitoring will allow you to know with some certainty that the procedures you have in place are effective rather than just thinking they are.
Review all monitoring results regularly in conjunction with flock performance and make the changes necessary to achieve your goals
Remember, if you don’t look, you won’t find, and you may consequently miss an opportunity to take corrective action.
Although this article is not specifically about environmental management, it’s important to remember that when turkeys are stressed or their natural defences are compromised through exposure to ammonia, dust or unsanitary water, disease agents can more easily take over and become resident on the farm.