SIMPLE THINGS Whether it’s washing hands or changing boots, small steps can have a big impact on biosecurity
Is your boot bath full of feces or dead frogs? You might as well just dip your feet in the toilet, says Jean-Pierre Vaillancourt, an expert on poultry biosecurity.
And yes, the University of Montreal professor actually once came across a boot bath full of dead frogs. But it’s the former situation he runs into all too often.
“Disinfectant is irrelevant if manure is not removed,” he said. “By the sixth time you dip, it won’t do anything. It can even increase the amount of manure on your boots.”
Changing boots is more effective than using a boot dip, he added.
All employees on a poultry farm need to be involved in biosecurity and emergency protocols, said Vaillancourt. Changing boots is just one way of cutting down on diseases, which can be transmitted through airborne pathogens, bodily fluids such as saliva or fecal matter, or contaminated objects in the environment. Rodents and insects also act as carriers of disease.
“If there are barns with rodents in them, the birds are nine times more likely to catch a disease,” Vaillancourt said.
Beetles and flies can also spread pathogens and there are less obvious hazards, such as employees who own poultry or keeping birds of two different ages in the same barn.
Vaillancourt said he is a big fan of using Danish entries, which is a primary entrance room attached to the production area of the poultry barn. The entry has two sides, “dirty” and “clean,” divided by some sort of barrier. Inside the entry, producers or employees can change clothes and boots and wash hands. He recommends a physical barrier, like a door or a bench, not just a line drawn on the floor.
Changing coveralls and frequent handwashing are also effective in reducing the spread of disease, as is regular disinfection of objects that are frequently touched, such as door handles.
Employees are more likely to comply with biosecurity protocols when they intend to be in the barn for a long time, but are most likely to violate them when accompanied by a visitor. Vaillancourt said it’s important for owners and managers to lead by example, make the rules simple and provide proper training.
Vaillancourt was one of several presenters at a recent workshop for poultry producers called PECK (Producer Education Creating Knowledge), hosted by Alberta Chicken Producers, Alberta Turkey Producers, Egg Farmers of Alberta, Alberta Hatchery, Alberta Agriculture and the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Billed as an “interactive” event, the workshop features skits, songs, short presentations and interactive exercises. Students from the Heifer in Your Tank program at the University of Alberta demonstrated how preparation in the anteroom can reduce time needed for a barn visit.