The recent small outbreak of H7 avian influenza at an egg farm near Maitland has been swiftly contained and eradicated in a collaborative effort between industry and NSW authorities.
However the incident has thrown a spotlight on the simple but effective farm biosecurity measures which can be implemented at all poultry operations to help prevent potentially disastrous disease outbreaks.
Farm Biosecurity program technical adviser, Duncan Rowland, commended the NSW Department of Primary Industries for coordinating the rapid response to the Maitland outbreak and stressed the need for poultry producers to be especially vigilant in the coming weeks.
“Implementing standard biosecurity procedures is critical to protecting Australia’s poultry industries,” Mr Rowland said. “While the source of the recent outbreak is not yet known, it is thought that wild birds are a major source of infectious diseases, so it is especially important to keep them from entering yards, aviaries and sheds.”
“We recommend restricting the access of other animals, particularly wild birds and rodents, with good fencing and netting.”
To prevent diseases entering your chook farm, Mr Rowland further recommends that you:
To keep disease from spreading, practise routine hygiene by:
“All of these practices and many more are described in the Code of Practice for Biosecurity in the Commercial Egg Industry,” Mr Rowland said. “I encourage all egg producers, from free range hobby farmers to large commercial operators, to familiarise themselves with the best practice biosecurity standards of the industry.
The virus at the Maitland facility was the H7 avian influenza strain – not the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain that has gained worldwide attention. However, if unusually high mortalities occur, immediately contact the emergency animal disease hotline (1800 675 888), your veterinarian or the local department of primary industries.
If an outbreak is declared, you will be required to follow biosecurity instructions issued by the Chief Veterinary Officer or department of primary industries.