Biosecurity: not an afterthought, but a way of life on the farm

To be truly effective, biosecurity has to be part of the farm’s ‘culture’, so that every employee and visitor is motivated to adhere to the procedures.

Biosecurity: not an afterthought, but a way of life on the farm
A large number of commercial poultry farms were built when the expectations for biosecurity were lower, and their infrastructure and operation need to be modernised.
Photo: FW Archive
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On-farm biosecurity rests on four pillars, and these must be coordinated in order to be effective, says US-based poultry consultant Gregorio Rosales in an interview with Poultry Health Today. They are concept, structure, operations and culture.

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Unfortunately, says Rosales, farmers often spend a great deal of time on the first three, but neglect the human factor.

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“Biosecurity is highly dependent on the human side of the business,” he stresses.

Employees need to understand that the success of the farm and the security of their jobs depend on the correct execution of biosecurity procedures.

“People have to see biosecurity as a duty,” says Rosales.

“They must believe in it.”

This culture is developed through training, education, audits and good communication. For example, he explains, employees need to be taught that poultry companies are not simply chicken farms.

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They are food-producing companies with products that enter the food chain and could end up on the workers’ own dinner plates.

“This attitude really changes a lot of mindsets and motivates people to do a good job,” says Rosales.

Failure to follow biosecurity procedures must have consequences, he continues. At the same time, there should be recognition for a job well done, which is another powerful motivator.

Rosales suggests creating incentives for employees and contract growers, as well as rewards for going above and beyond the basics of the biosecurity programme.

In his work with poultry companies, he sees modernisation as another urgent need. Many poultry farms were built before today’s emphasis on biosecurity, and need investment to bring facilities and systems up to date.

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Developing an effective biosecurity programme is more than an expensive inconvenience.

It should be viewed as a high-yielding investment that will enable poultry farmers to succeed whether they market their products domestically or export them.

It’s important, argues Rosales, to see biosecurity as “the first and the most important defence mechanism that you have to prevent the introduction of diseases and also the spread of those diseases from one farm to another”.