It’s National Agriculture Day! So we thought we’d dedicate this month’s blog to “5 minutes with a farmer”, reported by guest blogger Phil Pirone.
What does biosecurity mean for the chicken industry, and what practices are adopted? We talk to Farm Manager, Paul Frank, about biosecurity and the farm he manages north of Adelaide to find out more…
How would you explain biosecurity?
“Biosecurity is all about keeping the chickens, and people, free from disease or illness,” Paul says.
He believes that without adequate biosecurity the entire livelihood of the farm would be at risk.
“Day-to-day adherence to biosecurity takes up only minimal amounts of my time yet provides significant preventive benefits to my farm.”
Why is biosecurity important?
“We try our hardest to keep the birds as healthy as possible; we want to avoid any sort of contamination and reduce the introduction of outside disease,” Paul says.
“Without adhering to biosecurity processes a very realistic outcome is the introduction of disease or infection of birds, which can subsequently lead to serious productivity, welfare and profitability issues.
If biosecurity isn’t treated properly we can see some negative outcomes; the worst case scenario would be sick birds leading to the entire loss of a flock.”
Can you provide an example of some of the biosecurity measures you implement?
One important aspect is the biosecurity measures in place for visitors to the farm.
On any given day external employees or visitors may enter Paul’s farm. It is crucial that anyone wishing to enter the area adheres to relevant biosecurity procedures.
“Washing stations at shed and farm entry points are present and must be utilised by staff and visitors,” Paul says.
“Vehicles also pose a biosecurity risk, especially if travelling from farm to farm, so we ensure they are clean before entering the premises.”
Living on site makes the biosecurity process easier for Paul as he isn’t going to and from the workplace daily thereby reducing overall risk of him introducing any outside bacteria or disease.
Noting that biosecurity isn’t just about protecting the farm from the entry of pests and diseases, it’s also about minimising establishment and spread, Paul commented “Diligence to biosecurity at all times is crucial, even between batches or flocks of birds. Between each flock our sheds are thoroughly washed and sanitised in order kill off any bacteria or virus that may remain from the previous flock.”
Paul ensures that sufficient time has elapsed between batches in order to break the pathogen cycle.
How do you keep informed on best practice in biosecurity?
“Biosecurity has almost always existed in some sense but its importance and prominence has definitely risen over the years,” Paul says.
A greater awareness of biosecurity through increased training and education has ensured that principles are diligently followed by Paul, his employees, and anyone else entering a farm.
The chicken industry has had in place for many years a detailed set of procedures to manage biosecurity risks on farms (see National Farm Biosecurity Manual for Chicken Growers), and implementation of biosecurity practices is a part of everyday business for an Australian chicken farm. The National Biosecurity Manual for Chicken Growers is currently being reviewed by the ACMF to ensure the recommended measures are still relevant, particularly since the significant Avian Influenza outbreaks in the EU and USA in the past couple of years.
An overview of chicken farm biosecurity has been turned into an online video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJK4wRQq8o0) and other resources can be found on the ACMF website (www.chicken.org.au) and the Australian Farm Biosecurity website (www.farmbiosecurity.com.au).