Terrestrial Animal Health Code
Biosecurity procedures in poultry production
Infectious agents of poultry are a threat to poultry health and, at times, human health and have significant social and economic implications. In poultry production, especially under intensive conditions, prevention is the most viable and economically feasible approach to the control of infectious agents.
Biosecurity procedures should be implemented with the objective of preventing the introduction and dissemination of infectious agents in the poultry production chain. Biosecurity will be enhanced with the adoption and implementation of the principles of Good Agricultural Practices and the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system.
Purpose and scope
This chapter deals with biosecurity procedures in intensive poultry production. It should be read in conjunction with the Codex Alimentarius Code of Hygienic Practice for Meat (CAC/RCP 58-2005), Code of Hygienic Practice for Eggs and Egg Products (CAC/RCP 15-1976) and Guidelines for the control of Campylobacter and Salmonella in chicken meat (CAC/GL 78-2011).
This chapter identifies several biosecurity measures. The choice of measures to be implemented will vary in accordance with national conditions, including poultryinfection status, the risk of introduction and dissemination of infectious agents and the cost effectiveness of control measures.
Live bird markets: means markets where live birds from various sources and species are sold for slaughter, further rearing or production.
Recommendations on the location and construction of poultry establishments
All establishments (poultry
farms and hatcheries)
A suitably isolated geographical location is recommended. Factors to consider include the location of other poultry and livestock establishments, wild bird concentrations and the distance from roads used to transport poultry.
Poultry houses and hatcheries should be designed and constructed (preferably of smooth impervious materials) so that cleaning and disinfection can be carried out effectively. Ideally, the area immediately surrounding the poultry houses and hatcheries should be paved with concrete or other impervious material to facilitate cleaning and disinfection.
The establishment should be surrounded by a security fence to prevent the entry of unwanted animals and people.
A sign indicating restricted entry should be posted at the entrance to the establishment.
Additional measures for poultry farms
Establishments should be designed to house a single species and a single production type. The design should also consider the ‘all-in all-out’ single age group principle. If this is not feasible, the establishment should be designed so that each flock can be managed as a separate epidemiological unit.
Where feasible, feed should be delivered into the farm from outside the security fence.
Additional measures for hatcheries
The design of the hatchery should take account of work flow and air circulation needs, with ‘one way flow’ movement of eggs and day-old birds and one way air flow in the same direction.
The hatchery buildings should include physical separation of areas used for the following:
personnel changing, showering and sanitary facilities;
receipt, storage and transfer of eggs;
sorting, sexing and other handling of day-old birds;
storage of egg boxes and boxes for day-old birds, egg flats, chick box liners, chemicals and other items;
dining facilities for personnel;
Recommendations applicable to the operation of poultry establishments
All establishments (poultry farms and hatcheries)
All establishments should have a written biosecurity plan. Personnel in the establishments should have access to basic training in biosecurity relevant to poultry production and understand the implications to animal health, human health and food safety.
There should be good communication between personnel involved in the poultry production chain to ensure that steps are taken to minimise the introduction and dissemination of infectious agents.
Traceability at all levels of the poultry production chain should be possible.
Records should be maintained on an individual flock basis and include data on bird health, production, medications, vaccination, mortality and surveillance. In hatcheries, records should include data on fertility, hatchability, vaccination and treatments. Records should be maintained on cleaning and disinfection of farm and hatchery buildings and equipment. Records should be readily available for inspection on site.
To avoid the development of antimicrobial resistance, antimicrobial agents should be used in accordance with relevant directions of the Veterinary Services and manufacturer’s instructions and in accordance with Chapters 6.8., 6.9., 6.10. and 6.11.
Establishments should be free from unwanted vegetation and debris that could attract or harbour pests.
All personnel and visitors entering an establishment should follow a biosecurity procedure. The preferred procedure is for visitors and personnel entering the establishment to shower and change into clean clothes and footwear provided by the establishment. Where this is not practical, clean outer garments (coveralls or overalls, head covering and footwear) should be provided. Entry of visitors and vehicles should be registered by the establishment.
Personnel and visitors should not have had recent contact with other poultry, poultry waste, or poultry processing plant(s). This time period should be based on the level of risk of transmission of infectious agents. This will depend on the poultry production purpose, biosecurity procedures and infection status.
Any vehicle entering an establishment should be cleaned and disinfected in accordance with a biosecurity plan. Delivery vehicles should be cleaned, and disinfected before loading each consignment of eggs or poultry.
Additional measures for all poultry farms
Whenever possible, the ‘all-in all-out’ single age group principle should be used. If this is not feasible and several flocks are maintained on one establishment, each flock should be managed as a separate epidemiological unit.
All personnel and visitors entering a poultry house should wash their hands with soap and water or sanitize them using a disinfectant. Personnel and visitors should also change footwear, use a boot spray or use a properly maintained disinfectant footbath. The disinfectant solution in the footbath should be changed on a regular basis to ensure its efficacy, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Any equipment should be cleaned and sanitized before being taken into a poultry house.
Animals, other than poultry of the appropriate (resident) species and age, should not be permitted access to poultry houses. No animals should have access to other buildings, such as those used to store feed, eggs or other material.
The drinking water supply to poultry houses should be potable in accordance with the World Health Organization or to the relevant national standard, and microbiological quality should be monitored if there is any reason to suspect contamination. The water delivery system should be cleaned and disinfected between flocks when the poultry house is empty.
Heat treated feeds with or without the addition of other bacteriocidal or bacteriostatic treatments, such as addition of organic acids, are recommended. Where heat treatment is not possible, the use of bacteriostatic or bactericidal treatments is recommended.
Feed should be stored in a manner to prevent access by wild birds and rodents. Spilled feed should be cleaned up immediately to remove attractants for wild birds and rodents. The movement of feed between flocks should be avoided.
The litter in the poultry house should be kept dry and in good condition.
Dead birds should be removed from poultry houses as quickly as possible but at least daily. These should be disposed of in a safe and effective manner.
Personnel involved in the catching of birds should be adequately trained in bird handling and basic biosecurity procedures.
Containers should be cleaned and disinfected between each use, or disposed of in a safe manner.
When a poultry house is depopulated, it is recommended that all faeces and litter be removed from the house and disposed of in a safe manner to minimise the risk of dissemination of infectious agents.
For poultryflocks that are allowed to range outdoors, feeders, feed and other items which may attract wild birds should be kept indoors. Poultry should not be allowed access to sources of contamination, such as household waste, litter storage areas, other animals, stagnant water and water of unknown quality. The nesting area should be inside the poultry house.
Additional measures for layers
Refer to Section 3 of the Codex Alimentarius Code of Hygienic Practice for Eggs and Egg Products (CAC/RCP 15-1976).
Additional measures for breeders
Nest box litter and liners should be kept clean.
Hatching eggs should be collected at frequent intervals, at least daily, and placed in new or clean and disinfected packaging materials.
Grossly dirty, cracked, broken, or leaking eggs should be collected separately and should not be used as hatching eggs.
Hatching eggs should be cleaned and sanitized as soon as possible after collection using an approved sanitising agent, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Hatching eggs or their packaging materials should be marked to assist traceability and veterinary investigations.
The hatching eggs should
be stored in a dedicated room as soon as possible after cleaning
and sanitisation. Storage conditions should minimise the potential
for microbial contamination and growth and ensure maximum hatchability.
The room should be well ventilated, kept clean, and regularly disinfected
using disinfectants approved for this purpose.
Additional measures for hatcheries
Dead in shell embryos should
be removed from hatcheries as soon as they are found and disposed
of in a safe and effective manner.
All hatchery waste, garbage and discarded
equipment should be contained or at least covered while on site and
removed from the hatchery and its environs as soon as possible.
After use, hatchery equipment, tables and
surfaces should be promptly and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected
with an approved disinfectant.
Egg handlers and sexers and handlers of day-old birds should
wash their hands with soap and water before commencing work and
between working with batches of hatching eggs or day-old birds from
different breeder flocks.
Prevention of further dissemination of infectious agents of poultry
When a flock is suspected or known to be infected, a veterinarian should be consulted immediately and, in addition to the general biosecurity measures described previously, management procedures should be adjusted to effectively isolate it from other flocks on the establishment and other epidemiologically related establishments. The following measures are recommended:
Personnel should manage flocks to minimise the risk of dissemination of infectious agents to other flocks and establishments, and to humans. Relevant measures include handling of an infected flock separately, last in sequence and the use of dedicated personnel, clothing and equipment.
When infection has been confirmed, epidemiological investigations should be carried out to determine the origin and route of transmission of the infectious agent.
Poultry carcasses, litter, faeces and other potentially contaminated farm waste should be disposed of in a safe manner to minimise the risk of dissemination of infectious agents. The disposal method used will depend on the infectious agent involved.
Depending on the epidemiology of the disease, the results of a risk assessment, and public and animal health policies, destruction or slaughter of a flock before the end of the normal production period may be used. When infected flocks are destroyed or slaughtered, they should be processed in a manner to minimise exposure of humans and other flocks to the infectious agent, and in accordance with recommendations of the Veterinary Service and relevant chapters in the Terrestrial Code. Based on risk assessment, non-infected, high risk flocks may be destroyed or slaughtered before the end of their normal production period.
Before restocking, the poultry house including equipment should be cleaned, disinfected and tested to verify that the cleaning has been effective. Special attention should be paid to feed equipment and water systems.
Depending on the epidemiology of the disease, risk assessment, vaccine availability and public and animal health policies, vaccination is an option to minimise the dissemination of the infectious agent. When used, vaccines should be administered in accordance with the directions of the Veterinary Services and the manufacturer’s instructions. Recommendations in the Terrestrial Manual should be followed as appropriate.
Recommendations to prevent the dissemination of infectious agents to and from live bird markets
Personnel should be educated on the significance of infectious agents and the need to apply biosecurity practices to prevent dissemination of these agents. Education should be targeted to personnel at all levels of operations in these markets, such as drivers, owners, handlers and processors. Programmes should be implemented to raise consumer awareness about the risks associated with activities of live bird markets.
Personnel should wash their hands with soap and water before and after handling birds.
Birds from diseased flocks should not be transported to live bird markets.
Live birds that leave the market and go to a farm should be kept separately from other birds for a period of time to minimise the potential dissemination of infectious agents of poultry.
Periodically the market should be emptied, cleaned and disinfected. This is of particular importance when an infectious agent of poultry deemed significant by the Veterinary Services has been identified in the market or the region.
Where feasible, surveillance should be carried out in these markets to detect infectious agents of poultry. The surveillance programme should be determined by the Veterinary Services, and in accordance with recommendations in relevant chapters of the Terrestrial Code.
Efforts should be made to ensure the possibility of tracing all birds entering and leaving the markets.
2016 ©OIE - Terrestrial Animal Health Code