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

National Farm Biosecurity Manual for Chicken Growers

 

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CONTENTS

1. Meat chicken production biosecurity

2. Routine biosecurity procedures

3. High risk biosecurity procedures

4. Appendixes & Records 

 

 

 

BACKGROUND

A National Farm Biosecurity Manual for Poultry Production was produced by a Biosecurity Consultative Group (BCG), established as a resolution of the 2007 Government–Industry Avian Influenza Forum. Membership of the group included representatives from each of the following organisations and poultry industry sectors:

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  • Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • Animal Health Australia
  • Australian Chicken Meat Federation Inc.
  • Australian Chicken Growers’ Council
  • Australian Egg Corporation Limited
  • Australasian Turkey Federation
  • Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia
  • Australian Duck Meat Association
  • Emu Industry Federation of Australia
  • Australian Ostrich Association
  • Game bird industry
  • NSW Department of Primary Industries
  • Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries

 The purpose of the Manual was to establish a minimum set of biosecurity standards, applicable to all poultry producers (including ratites).

Manual adapted for the commercial chicken meat industry

The present document is an adaptation of the generic poultry manual to reflect the requirements as they apply to the commercial chicken meat industry.  Reference to other sectors has been removed and some industry specific arrangements have been reflected in the present text.

The sector specific manuals, such as this one,  must, as a minimum, satisfy the requirements stipulated in the generic manual but may provide more specific guidance or additional requirements that reflect the characteristics of the industry sector.

Individual producers and companies may wish to develop enhanced biosecurity manuals, which should nevertheless incorporate these minimum standards in addition to any specific company requirements.

Scope

The Manual applies to commercial meat chicken farms (broiler farms) from the time of delivery of birds, until pick-up, slaughter or disposal of live birds.  While the Manual stipulates the minimum requirements for any meat chicken farm, it should be noted that biosecurity measures in place on breeder farms would generally be much more stringent, reflecting the economic importance and the extended life cycle of breeder flocks.  The pick-up and transport to the processing plant is covered in Appendix 10.

Implementation

The adoption of the new Poultry Meat Production and Processing Food Standard (PPPFS) currently being finalised by FSANZ and to be implemented over the coming two years in a consistent way by all States and Territories presents a good opportunity to promote adoption of the biosecurity standards set out in this Manual.  While the biosecurity requirements in this Manual are in some areas broader than what is strictly required from a food safety point of view, it is the industry’s expectation that adoption of the measures stipulated in this Manual will meet the PPPFS requirements as far as the production phase is concerned. 

 

Meat chicken production biosecurity

OBJECTIVES

  • To prevent the introduction of infectious disease agents to chicken.
  • To prevent the spread of disease agents from an infected area to an uninfected area.
  • To minimise the incidence and spread of microorganisms of public health significance.

Biosecurity and quarantine are integral parts of any successful poultry production system. Biosecurity refers to those measures taken to prevent or control the introduction and spread of infectious agents to a flock.

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Such infectious agents, whether they cause clinical or subclinical disease, significantly reduce the productivity, profitability and long term financial viability of a poultry operation. 

Biosecurity is about managing risk to meet the objectives stated above. It is essential that a risk assessment be conducted for each enterprise to establish what level of risk exists in each phase of its operations and to identify and implement control measures appropriate to these levels of risk.

This Manual identifies areas of risk common to most broiler farms, and appropriate measures to minimise these risks.  When undertaking the risk assessment underpinning the farm-specific biosecurity measures, it is important to take into account all factors that may impact on the biosecurity of the production area. These factors should include location and layout of property and production area, source of water supply, disease status of the district, proximity to other production areas with avian species, presence and type of wildlife, and interface with the organisations and/or individual clients that are being supplied.  These interactions include pick-ups, servicemen, industry personnel, contractors, and deliveries of day-old chicks and feed.

An additional element in the prevention of introduction and spread of disease is the use of vaccination.  The Manual does not cover this aspect but the importance of an appropriate vaccination strategy is acknowledged and vaccination as a possible risk management measure should form part of the overall biosecurity assessment and strategy.

The purpose of the Manual is to establish a minimum set of biosecurity guidelines, applicable to all meat chicken producers from hatcheries to the point of delivery at the processor. Commercial enterprises which raise meat chickens for the purposes of breeding fall within the scope of this Manual. 

Individual producers and companies may wish to develop enhanced biosecurity manuals, which should nevertheless incorporate these minimum standards in addition to any specific company requirements.

A biosecurity self audit/auditable checklist for continuous improvement is attached as Appendix 9.  This document may also form the basis for either 2nd or 3rd party audits where this is required.

Biosecurity is like any other insurance policy and as such it is a prudent investment.

 

MAJOR ROUTES FOR DISEASE AND PATHOGEN TRANSMISSION

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POULTRY

  • Transfer of birds from production area to production area
  • Dead bird disposal

OTHER ANIMALS

  • Wild birds
  • Feral and domestic animals, including other livestock and pets
  • Insects
  • Rodents – rats/mice
  • Domestic birds

PEOPLE

  • Farm personnel and family members living on site
  • Contractors, maintenance personnel, neighbours, serviceperson, visitors
  • Disease can be transmitted by, for example, hands, boots, clothing, dirty hair

EQUIPMENT

VEHICLES

AIR

  • Transmission as an aerosol or dust

WATER SUPPLY

  • Water supplies may become contaminated with faeces from contact with avian or other animal species.

FEED

  • Feed may be contaminated by the raw materials used, post-production and during transport, or by exposure to rodents and birds on the property. Bacteria and mould in poor quality or damaged feed may also be a concern.

LITTER

  • Transport of litter material on and off the farm site as well as storage of used litter on site may be a biosecurity risk.

 

DEFINITION OF THE CONCEPT OF PRODUCTION AREA AND PROPERTY

In this document, the production area includes the poultry sheds, the ranges used for free range production, the areas used for feed storage and handling and the area immediately surrounding the sheds, including pick-up areas.

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The property is the land on which the production area is located and typically includes the facility manager’s home and may include other farm land used for livestock or cultivation. The boundary of the production area and the boundary of the property may be the same.

Any reference to sheds is a reference to roofed buildings capable of and used for holding poultry securely within its perimeter.  Any reference to range is a reference to fenced pastures that are, or at times are, accessed by the poultry being farmed.

 

LEVELS OF BIOSECURITY

LEVEL 1 – ROUTINE BIOSECURITY PROCEDURES

These procedures should be implemented and followed on a daily basis.

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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.

ACTION PLAN FOR SUSPECTED EMERGENCY ANIMAL DISEASE

Each owner must establish and document clear guidelines regarding the circumstances when a emergency animal disease alert should be raised (e.g. an unusual increase in mortality or drop in production), and who must be informed.  The action plan must also clearly state that, if an alert is raised, movements on and off the production area and the property must be limited to the absolute minimum and special precautions must be taken as outlined in the section Level 2 – High risk biosecurity procedures.

 

LEVEL 2 – HIGH RISK BIOSECURITY PROCEDURES

In the event of an outbreak of an emergency disease or serious endemic disease, High Risk Biosecurity Procedures will be implemented. In the case of an emergency animal disease and where applicable, standard operating procedures (SOPs) will be implemented in line with the relevant AUSVETPLAN disease strategy.

 

FREE RANGE PRODUCTION OPERATIONS

This Manual applies equally to conventionally housed birds and free-range operations.  It is recognised that free-range birds will have some exposure to wild birds.  However, in these environments measures should be taken to minimise the congregation of waterfowl and the impacts of wild birds generally, and these measures should be documented.

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While footbaths are not appropriate for a free range paddock, a system should be implemented to monitor and control any potential hazardous organic material or litter from entering free range paddocks and these measures should be documented.  Paragraph 4.3.4 covers some specific range management issues to be followed by free range operations.

Good fencing is required around free range farms to prevent entry of animals such as dogs, foxes and cats. In many situations, however, fencing alone is insufficient to stop such intrusions; therefore, some free range enterprises keep specially trained dogs with the chickens, as a protection against other animals and also against unauthorised human entry. Guard dogs such as these are not regarded as a biosecurity risk but rather as a biosecurity tool.

 

THE TERM “POULTRY”

The term “Poultry” in the remainder of this document refers to meat chickens.  For other poultry species, please refer to the generic poultry farm biosecurity manual “National Farm Biosecurity Manual, Poultry Production” (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 1st Edition, 2009) or the sector specific manual relevant to the particular species concerned where available.