Poultry Biosecurity Now More Crucial Than Ever

By Tim Nelson, President and CEO

Biosecurity has always been important for all poultry operations, but three recent international events underscore that it’s more crucial now than ever. These three events are the soon to be implemented European Union ban on the prophylactic use of antibiotics in farming, the detection of high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Japan in early 2021, and a United Kingdom outbreak of HPAI this fall.

Looking ahead, the EU ban on prophylactic use of antimicrobials (AMU) will take effect January 28, 2022. The prophylactic use of antimicrobials has, to a large degree, compensated for poor or inadequate biosecurity and sanitation practices. Hence, heightened biosecurity, hygiene and other management practices that protect flock health and reduce disease risk take on even more importance with the reduction of AMU. A Poultry World article states that “Reducing antimicrobials from poultry production requires good farm management.1” If you don’t believe what you read in the media, just ask any farmer who is producing antibiotic free poultry. Biosecurity practices that help protect commercial poultry flocks include keeping accurate and up to date visitor logs, controlling farm and barn entry (including a boundary separating ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ areas) and all-in all-out batches to allow for full cleaning and disinfection and adequate downtime between flocks.

Looking back over the last several months, two incidents highlight the importance of keeping biosecurity top of mind. In January 2021, high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was confirmed in two regions in Japan2. This was the seventh outbreak in less than two months for one of the locations and resulted in the euthanasia of 1.5 million birds. The Japan Times reported that the virus was spread through people and vehicle movement, as well as small animals coming into contact with bird droppings3 through openings in buildings. Additionally, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported that inadequate biosecurity procedures were found on 27 out of 30 farms inspected4.

As recently as October 28, 2021, HPAI was confirmed in Worcestershire, England at a swan rescue center. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has urged producers to remain vigilant and to assess their biosecurity practices using the DEFRA biosecurity self-assessment tool.

Disease outbreaks are often the result of biosecurity breaches and human error or behaviour. Although everyone gets busy completing day-to-day tasks, its vital to remember the cost to us as individuals, our businesses and to the industry of breaching accepted and proven biosecurity protocols. That’s why it’s important to ensure employees are not just trained to implement biosecurity practices, but that they understand why it’s critical.

If disease is suspected, having accurate up to the minute records of people and vehicle movements onto and off the farm will save valuable time in determining where the disease may have come from, who may be inadvertently transmitting it and where it might have already spread.

On-going vigilance in practicing biosecurity is critical, and Farm Health Guardian can help you strengthen your biosecurity, protect your flock and save you money.


1 https://www.poultryworld.net/Health/Articles/2020/8/Reducing-antibiotics-4-phase-farm-management-blueprint-624879E/?intcmp=related-content&intcmp=related-content

2 https://www.poultryworld.net/Health/Articles/2021/8/Biosecurity-breaches-major-contributing-factor-in-disease-outbreaks-784273E/?intcmp=related-content

3 https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/05/09/national/record-chicken-duck-culling/

4 https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/01/30/national/bird-flu-farm-flaws/