Keeping Birds Healthy While Following Good Biosecurity Best Practices

Thu, 05 Oct 2017

US - Industry leaders from around the world recently gathered in Nashville for the 2017 Live Production, Welfare and Biosecurity Seminar.

This year’s seminar was a collaboration between the US Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY), National Chicken Council (NCC), National Turkey Federation (NTF) and United Egg Producers (UEP). The seminar focused on biosecurity, technology used in live production, and ensuring bird health, with species-specific content presented in breakout sessions for broiler, turkey and egg producers.

Dr Dustin Burch, staff veterinarian for Aviagen Turkeys, Inc. presented on Biosecurity: Keeping the Focus. He emphasized the importance of biosecurity to public health; disease prevention for the health of the flock; as a financial incentive, since decreased disease prevalence equates to increased revenue; and for international restrictions on exports.

Dr Burch reviewed the H5N2 and H5N8 avian influenza outbreaks in the US and internationally, as well as discussed NPIP biosecurity audits. He observed that pathogens are continuously found in the environment. With increased international movement of people and materials, there is an enhanced risk of pathogen exposure to the US and subsequently, the poultry industry.

Dr Kelli Jones, manager of technical services for CEVA, discussed layer industry disease challenges as a result of transitioning from caged to cage-free production. She reviewed the implications of cage-free production, including costs associated with the transition, competition from lower-priced traditional eggs, and concerns from welfare, food safety and health perspectives. Dr Jones noted that prevention of diseases and protecting immune systems are key to managing bird health in the new systems.

Dr David Hermes, regional director of veterinary services, Perdue Farms Inc., and chair of the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO), offered tips on how to prepare for a welfare audit and what to expect. He stressed that auditors are there to review whether or not the facility meets or exceeds the standards set.

"When we are training our auditors... when they are going through the certification process, we emphasize they are auditing basic practices and not best management practices. There are a lot of different ways to raise broilers, turkeys, etc. They all have different equipment, and the latest equipment or technology is not always required for good welfare," Dr Hermes explained.