Providing practical information to help you protect your farm from biosecurity risks

Chickens – routine biosecurity procedures


These procedures should be implemented and followed on a daily basis. They give a high degree of assurance that diseases and pathogens will not be carried into poultry production areas and will reduce the risk of transmission between production areas.  These should be seen as a minimum requirement.

1. Documentation and training

Objective: To ensure awareness by and training of all production area employees in all relevant biosecurity requirements. More

1.1 Each production facility must keep a copy of this National Farm Biosecurity Manual (the Manual) readily accessible to staff.

1.2 Staff must be provided with training in the relevant parts of the Manual and such training is to be recorded.



2. Facility standards

Objective: To limit and control access to poultry production areas by people and prevent as much as possible access by livestock, wild birds and other animals (including rodents). More

2.1 The production area must have a perimeter fence or otherwise well defined boundary (e.g. creek, vegetation) establishing a clearly defined biosecurity zone.

2.2 If livestock graze the property then the production area must have a stock proof fence. Grazing near sheds (i.e. on part of the production area as defined in this Manual) is only permitted where the grazing area is separated by a stock proof barrier from the area used by poultry, effectively preventing transmission of contaminants from grazing livestock to poultry, and the grazing area is not used for access to other parts of the production area. Drainage from livestock pastures or holding areas must not enter poultry enclosures or areas that can be accessed by poultry (e.g through fences).

2.3 A sketch or map of the layout of the property, showing the production area, sheds, ranges, access roads and gates must be created and maintained up-to-date.

2.4 The main entrance to the production area must be capable of being closed off to vehicle traffic (e.g. lockable gate which, where feasible, should be kept locked at all times) and must display appropriate signage including “Biosecure Area No Entry Unless Authorised” or similar wording. In addition, signage must direct visitors to contact the producer before proceeding i.e. telephone number and/or enquire at house.

2.5 There must be a parking area for vehicles not entering the production area. There must be a change area away from sheds with clean protective clothing and boots provided.

2.6 Entry to sheds must only be made through entrances where a footbath exists containing a suitable disinfectant used in accordance with company or manufacturer’s instructions and changed on a regular basis. There must be provision for scraping the soles of boots before dipping to ensure the sanitiser is making contact with the soles of the boots. An alternative system using separate production area and shed footwear may be used. Facilities for hand sanitation must also be placed at the entry of each shed.

2.7 Adequate dead bird disposal method must conform with applicable environmental compliance requirements (collection as per Appendix 7, composting as per Appendix 8, incineration with after-burner).

2.8 All poultry housing must be designed and maintained so as to prevent the entry of wild birds and limit the access of vermin as far as is practical.

2.9 Landscape – trees and shrubs should be selected to minimise wild bird attraction, particularly in free-range operations. The area around sheds must be kept free from debris and vegetation should be mown regularly to discourage wild birds, insects and rodents which are potential disease vectors.

Vegetation buffers for environmental compliance should not be compromised. Trees may be used as shelter belts, along fence lines and on free range premises to provide shade and protect birds from harsh weather conditions.

2.10 Drainage – The production area should be adequately drained to prevent accumulation and stagnation of water likely to attract water fowl, especially in the areas around sheds and range areas. Standing water may also increase the presence of insects which can act as significant disease vectors.

2.11 An appropriate vermin control strategy and plan must be developed and implemented, including rodents, foxes, and wild dogs and cats.

2.12 A baiting program for rodents must be implemented where a risk assessment deems this necessary (live rodents, droppings, nests). Such a baiting program must include the following features:

2.12.1 Bait stations must be numbered and a map kept of their location.

2.12.2 Bait stations must be placed at regular intervals around the sheds. The number of bait stations should be increased in areas where there are signs of increased rodent activity.

2.12.3 Bait stations must be designed to minimise the opportunity for other mammals and birds to access the bait.

2.13 Drinking water for poultry, as well as cooling water used in poultry sheds, must meet appropriate water standards. The drinking water standard can be found in Appendix 4. Water that does not meet the standard must be treated (e.g. Chlorination, Ultraviolet, Iodine) to ensure that the standard is met. See also section 4.1 below.

All surface water (dam, river etc) must be treated before being used as drinking water for poultry. See also section 4.1 below.

Treated water supply must be kept in a closed system from the point of treatment to the drinker.

2.14 Sheep and other domestic stock must not have access to the production area at any time except under the specific condition stipulated in 2.2 above. Dogs and cats must not enter sheds unless dogs are part of the flock security strategy (see Free Range Production Operations, page 11).

2.15 Only commercially produced avian species are to be kept in the production area and no other avian species (including aviary birds and pet birds) or pigs are to be kept on the property.

2.16 If more than one commercially produced avian species is kept in the production area, the species should be housed and managed separately, with suitable biosecurity arrangements for each species. Shared equipment should be cleaned and disinfected between use.

2.17 Feeding systems must wherever possible be closed to ensure that feed in silos and feed delivery systems are protected from access and contamination by wild birds and rodents. Feed spills should be cleaned up without delay to prevent the congregation of wild birds.

2.18 Where bird weighing is practiced, it must be carried out using the production area’s own weighing frames and scales. Company service personnel can use their own scales provided that they are cleaned and disinfected when moved between production areas.


3. Personnel standards and procedures

Objective: To minimise the risk of introducing or spreading a disease or contaminant through people movement, including:

  • staff (including production personnel and company service personnel)
  • sontractors, suppliers and other service personnel
  • visitors and family members

and to document such movements to facilitate tracing in case of a concern.

3.1 Production Personnel

Objective: To minimise the risk of introduction of disease or contaminants by production personnel. More

3.1.1 Production area personnel or any person residing on the property must not have contact with any other poultry, cage birds, emus, racing pigeons or pigs unless they have a complete head-to-toe shower and change into new protective footwear and clothing prior to entering the production area (see Appendix 1 “Personnel Quarantine Declaration”).

3.1.2 Production area personnel must wear laundered clean clothes each day at the commencement of their work. Personnel must ensure that they do not become contaminated by contact with avian species or pigs on their way to work. It is critical that boots worn in sheds are not worn or taken outside the production area. They are the most likely method for disease spread by personnel.


3.2 Company Service Personnel

Objective: To minimise the risk of introduction of disease or contaminants by company service personnel. More

3.2.1 Company service personnel by necessity make multiple production area visits on a single day. Protective clothing and footwear, as approved by the production facility manager, should be worn in the production area. Hands must be sanitised before entering sheds.

3.2.2 Visits should always be made from ‘clean’ areas i.e. home, younger or healthy production area. In an emergency, visits may be made from production areas with lower standards of biosecurity after a shower and complete change of clothing.


3.3 Repair and Maintenance

Objective: To minimise the risk of introduction of disease or contaminants by contractors carrying out maintenance and repair work. More

3.3.1 Repair and maintenance contractors who have had contact with poultry or other birds that day must not enter sheds and/or ranges populated or ready to be populated with birds unless (a) it is an emergency and (b) they have showered from head-to-toe and changed clothes and boots and wear a hair covering.

3.3.2 Routine maintenance should be conducted, where possible, between batches prior to final disinfection where a batch system is practiced.

3.3.3 Tools taken into the production area must be cleaned before entry into sheds and must be free of dust and organic matter.


3.4 Contractors, Suppliers, other Service Personnel and Visitors

Objective: To minimise the risk of introduction of disease or contaminants by contractors, suppliers, service personnel and visitors. More

3.4.1 Visitors’ Log – a record must be kept of all visitors to the poultry sheds and poultry ranges including contractors and company personnel (see Appendix 2B regarding details to be recorded and a possible format). The only exceptions are detailed below in 3.4.3.

3.4.2 Conditions of entry to poultry sheds and poultry ranges – all visitors must agree to comply with the entry conditions as stipulated in Appendix 2A (which must be displayed prominently near the Visitors’ Log). All visits must be approved by the Manager before visitors may enter sheds and ranges. This requirement also applies to vaccination crews.

3.4.3 Exeptions – The only people who may enter the sheds and poultry ranges without signing the Visitors’ Log are farm personnel covered by the Personnel Quarantine Declaration (Appendix 1) and members of pick-up crews, provided that they have signed an appropriate Personnel Quarantine Declaration as specified by the relevant processor and the relevant processor records details (name, date, farm) of those involved in pick-ups in a manner that will assist rapid identification and tracing of contacts in the case of a biosecurity concern. It is recommended that the pick-up foreman sign the visitors’ log for the entire crew. All members of pick-up crews must be fully aware of the appropriate biosecurity measures applicable to pick-ups (see also Appendix 10). Not all the entry conditions detailed in Appendix 2A may apply to the pick-up crews.

3.4.4 Any authorised visitor, including neighbours, friends, other producers or equipment suppliers, likely to have been exposed that day to poultry, other birds or pigs must not enter the sheds unless they have had a head-to-toe shower and changed clothes and boots or must limit their visit to the property’s residence while wearing clean clothes.

3.4.5 All visitors should park their vehicles outside the production area unless it is essential that the vehicle be taken on site e.g. some maintenance contractors. Visitors entering sheds or ranges must complete and sign the Visitors’ Log (see Appendix 2B).


3.5 Requirements for Specified Movements

Objective: To minimise the risk of introduction of disease or contaminants by specified movements. More

3.5.1 Pick up of poultry– Pick-up crews should work from youngest to oldest or all young birds or all old birds on a shift basis in accordance with the processing company’s pick up biosecurity procedures. Pick-up crews must not keep birds at their home.

3.5.2 Day-old chick delivery -Trucks and dollies must be cleaned and disinfected each day and between properties not owned/operated by the same entity. Drivers must sanitise their hands and boots before and after each delivery on the production area.

3.5.3 Litter delivery and collection of used litter – Trucks carrying new or old litter must be cleaned and disinfected between production areas.

3.5.4 Other deliveries (e.g. gas and feed drivers) – drivers must not enter sheds and thus are not required to sign the visitors’ book.

3.5.5 There must be a system for tracing movements of delivery personnel (e.g. through delivery dockets and feed company records).


3.6 Entry procedures for bird sheds and ranges

Objective: To prevent the introduction of disease agents and contaminants into bird sheds and ranges through people movements. More

Any person entering sheds must sanitise hands and use footbaths (unless separate shed boots are being used) before entering each shed.

3.6.1 Soles of boots must be scraped before disinfecting in the footbaths.

3.6.2 A hand sanitiser must be available at all shed entrances and must be used before entering.

3.6.3 Facilities should be available for the cleaning and disinfection of equipment before entry.



4. Operational standards

4.1 Water supply (see also 2.13)

Objective: To ensure that water used in poultry sheds for drinking, cooling and cleaning, is of a standard suitable for livestock. More

The use of a suitably treated water supply is critical to achieving good biosecurity. In general, water with a high level of organic matter is unsuitable for chlorination alone, while ultraviolet treatment is of little use for turbid water. It may be necessary to seek expert advice to ensure a safe water supply. Effective treatment of surface water to reduce contamination is essential but complex, and any water treatment process should be monitored regularly.

4.1.1 For a chlorinated water supply the treatment must achieve a level of 1.0 – 2.0 ppm free available chlorine (FAC) at the point of use.

4.1.2 When chlorinating water, there must be a minimum of 2 hours contact time between chlorine and water prior to use.

4.1.3 Testing must be conducted and recorded daily (see Appendix 5) and a maintenance program needs to be in place.

4.1.4 The effectiveness of water treatment systems, including alternative systems (e.g. Ultraviolet), must be validated before use and treatment systems require a programme of maintenance and monitoring to ensure effectiveness. Production area records able to demonstrate the effectiveness of water treatment must be kept. Microbiological validation of the efficacy of the treatment system must be carried out at least annually.

4.1.5 Drinking water quality must be maintained at a standard suitable for use in livestock (Appendix 4).

4.1.6 Guidelines regarding the chlorination of surface water are available in Appendix 3.


4.2 Vermin baiting (see also 2.11 & 2.12)

Objective: To minimise the potential for introduction of infectious agents and pathogens by vermin, in particular rodents, through their presence in the production area. More

4.2.1 Bait stations must be checked weekly and fresh baits laid as required.

4.2.2 A record should be kept of each inspection and activity noted (see Appendix 6).


4.3 Cleaning and ground maintenance

Objective: To hinder the introduction of disease agents and contaminants into poultry sheds and enclosures and reduce the attraction of rodents and birds to production areas. More

4.3.1 Feed spills must be cleaned up as soon as practicable. Feed attracts birds and rodents to the production area.

4.3.2 Grass on and around the production area must be kept cut – long grass attracts rodents and favours the survival of viruses and bacteria.

4.3.3 Footbaths must be inspected daily (e.g. for excessive organic matter) and the contents replaced as required to achieve an adequate concentration of suitable disinfectant used according to company or manufacturer’s recommendations.

4.3.4 On free-range production sites, the following applies:

Manure deposits outside the hatch openings must be removed after each batch.

Ramps to free range area must be scraped and cleaned after each batch.

4.3.5 The production area must be adequately drained to prevent accumulation and stagnation of water, especially in the areas around sheds and range areas.


4.4 Record keeping

Objective: To assist early detection of animal health issues and the response to any biosecurity breach. More

4.4.1 Bird mortality must be recorded on a regular basis to assist monitoring for any unusual animal health problems potentially indicating a biosecurity breach.

4.4.2 A record of bird movements must be maintained to facilitate tracing in case of an animal health or food safety concern.


4.5 End of batch procedures

Objective: To minimize the risk of introducing or spreading disease or contaminants by delivery and pick-up operations. More

4.5.1 After final pick-up the shed doors must be kept closed except during litter removal. After washing and disinfecting, shed doors must be kept closed. If drying is a problem, ventilate using fans or place bird wire screens in shed doorways. Wild birds must be kept out after disinfection.

4.5.2 Litter and manure must not be stockpiled in the production area (as defined under Definitions on page 10) and litter and manure must be stored in an appropriately designed storage area, off the production area, with sufficient buffering zone from the bird sheds and enclosures.



Processor or farm specific additional biosecurity requirements

Objective: To build on the generic meat chicken biosecurity requirements and reflect specific additional requirements and operational procedures.

Any additional requirements that must be followed by a particular farm(s) should be added.