Avian flu: What poultry producers can do

As Neogen is responding to confirmed cases of avian influenza in multiple U.S. locations, one of the most common questions we are receiving from poultry producers is: “What can we do to protect our flocks?”

Neogen poultry industry expert Lindsay Berg says that although extra vigilance may be required in some cases, for most poultry producers, protecting flocks from avian influenza consists of maintaining a strict adherence to their established biosecurity protocols.

“We have worked with poultry producers for many years establishing and refining biosecurity protocols to help face threats from various biological sources, including avian influenza,” said Berg. “For most producers, now is a good time to simply double-check that their existing protocols are being strictly followed. For other producers, especially smaller ones, now may be the time to establish the protocols that have been proven to be effective against biological threats such as the one we are now facing.”

Berg said the poultry industry can now use lessons it learned from previous outbreaks.

“Unfortunately, we in the poultry industry have learned many lessons the hard way,” she said. “In recent history, the large outbreak of H5N1 avian flu in Southeast Asia in 2005 stands out, but there have been many other, less publicized, outbreaks of avian flu strains of various pathogenicity. In each case, we have learned what strategies work — and which ones don’t.”

Berg suggests that producers with questions seek out experts who have helped the industry face previous threats — and know what works.

Neogen has created a website with specific biosecurity strategies to lessen the risk posed by the current strains of avian flu to poultry operations. To view the website, click here.

Berg said she recommends all producers review their biosecurity protocols. She has five tips for producers to help protect their operations from avian influenza:

  1. Disinfect the wheels and undercarriage of all vehicles entering and exiting the farm

Vehicles, such as feed trucks, service vehicles, and farm vehicles, can transmit diseases from farm to farm. Ensure that vehicles entering the farm are pathogen free by installing a wheel wash station at the entrance to the farm, utilizing a disinfectant proven to kill poultry pathogens, including avian influenza.

  1. Install boot baths at every entrance to buildings and keep them maintained

Providing a boot bath at every entrance of poultry buildings can help to make sure that workers and visitors to the farm are not tracking diseases into or out of the flock. Boot bath solutions should be made up with a disinfectant designed for the poultry industry.

  1. Make sure poultry drinking water is free of pathogens

Water is an often-overlooked component to poultry production. Ensure that birds are consuming clean, fresh water by using products specifically formulated for complete waterline cleaning and disinfection. Pathogen-free water will reduce stress on birds, allowing for improved health and performance.

  1. Prevent the spread of disease by rodents

Rodents can transmit diseases from one poultry farm to another, without any indication to the farm owner. Following a rodenticide program that features a rotation can help reduce rodent populations on farms and the risk of disease transmission associated with them.

  1. Clean and disinfect barns and equipment in between flocks

Raising birds in a confinement operation puts stress on each bird’s immune system. Set up each new flock for optimal profitability by cleaning and disinfecting barns in between flocks. Choose cleaners and disinfectants designed for poultry farms to prevent any corrosion issues for equipment and housing.

To learn more about Neogen’s full line of poultry biosecurity products and recommended protocols, click here.

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