Biosecurity on layer farms: Good management practices make good profits

by Olipa Lumponge

Have you ever wondered why some layer farms are disease-free and yet they have been rearing chickens for some years? Well, it is not by luck but by good management practices. Good management practices entail a cocktail of do’s and don’ts. Under this umbrella falls biosecurity measures.

Biosecurity is a strategic and integrated approach to analyse and manage relevant risks to human, animal, and plant life. Protecting a farm from micro-organism contamination is an extremely important component of any farming operation. Diseases can result in serious economic consequences for a farmer.

The most important part of any biosecurity plan is to have the right attitude, says Dr Gregory Martin, Educator and Extension Specialist at the Pennsylvania State University. The concept of biosecurity is to control the spreading of diseases onto your farm. It can be attained by monitoring and minimizing entrance to the farm by people and vehicles or objects.

Three disease barriers

Daily operations on a layer farm must focus on disease barriers. These being physical barriers (installation of physical barriers at strategic personnel entry points to define distinct biosecurity zones); chemical barriers (the use of disinfectants); logical barriers (use of age and disease status to plan visits to a farm and quarantine animals suspected of having a disease).

Biosecurity plan

Every layer farm must have a biosecurity plan on site, and ensure that all workers and visitors have easy access to it. A simple biosecurity plan must include at least the following measures:

  • A record of training done on biosecurity
  • Identify biosecurity officers on the
  • farm
  • Stipulate that all staff and visitors on the farm must wear protective clothing
  • State implemented plans for vector control
  • Prescribe proper plans for waste management
  • Prescribe proper plans for water management
  • Procedure for replacement stock
  • Feed and new materials management
  • Equipment control between different houses
  • Handling of mortalities

When drafting a simple biosecurity plan, a layer farmer must consider where the borders of separation are, especially if the farm has more lines of operation than layers, such as pigs, et cetera, on the same site.

The farm must have proper, visible signage where necessary. Identify entry and exit points and streamline them into a one-way route through the farm. This way, the farmer can keep track of everybody and everything coming in and going out of the farm. Once the entry and exit points are identified, a disinfectant foot bath and spray-race must be installed at these points.

A layer farmer must regularly check the birds for unusual disease symptoms and immediately report such cases to the local veterinarian or livestock professional. Early detection and immediate reporting of exotic pests or diseases increase the chance of effective and efficient eradication.

Biosecurity must be implemented on all farms. Implementing recommended measures in your day to day operations will improve your own biosecurity and that of your region. At the same time, it will minimise production losses and un- necessary costs

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