Poultry diseases such as low pathogenic avian influenza, Coryza, and Newcastle Disease can be spread through direct contact with infected birds, even those not showing clinical signs of disease, and through indirect contact with manure from infected flocks, shared equipment, contaminated feed and water, animal pests, and visitors.
Poultry producers should maintain a written biosecurity plan for their flocks and ensure that all people entering the premises follow best management practices. The following should be included in the plan to prevent the introduction and spread of infectious diseases:
- Training: poultry owners and caretakers/workers who regularly enter the perimeter buffer area need to be trained on the biosecurity plan at least once per calendar year, new employees should be trained at hire.
- Line of separation: this is a functional line separating the poultry house and the poultry inside from exposure to potential disease sources. Generally, it is defined by the walls of the poultry building with practical deviations to account for entry points, structural aspects, or outside access. The site-specific biosecurity plan should illustrate the boundaries of the line and clearly outline the procedure to be followed when caretakers, visitors, or suppliers cross it.
- Perimeter buffer area: this is a functional zone surrounding the poultry houses or poultry raising area that separates them from areas unrelated to poultry production on that site or adjoining properties. It includes the poultry houses and raising areas as well as nearby structures and high traffic areas involved in the daily function of the poultry farm. This would typically include things such as feed bins, manure sheds, composting areas, egg rooms, generators, pump rooms, etc. The site-specific biosecurity plan should illustrate the boundaries of the perimeter buffer area and clearly outline the procedure to be followed when caretakers, visitors, or suppliers cross it.
- Wild birds, rodents, insects: control measures should be in place to prevent contact with and protect poultry from wild birds, their feces, and their feathers. Control for rodents, insects, and other animals should also be in place and documented.
- Equipment and vehicles: the plan should include provisions for cleaning, disinfecting, or restricting of equipment where applicable. Vehicle access and traffic patterns should be defined in the site-specific plan.
- Mortality disposal: Mortality should be collected daily, stored, and disposed in a manner that does not attract wild birds, rodents, insects, and other animals and minimizes the potential for cross-contamination from other facilities or between premises. It is recommended that dead bird disposal be on-site, if possible. Read more about the responsibilities and recommendations for disposal of deadstock in PA.
- Manure and litter management: Manure and spent litter should be removed, stored, and disposed of in a manner to prevent exposure of susceptible poultry to disease. Onsite litter and manure storage should limit attraction of wild birds, rodents, insects, and other animals. Since disease can survive for a period of time in litter, used litter should be stacked or composted on site for as long as possible before being spread on fields.
- Replacement poultry: should be sourced from health-monitored flocks which are in compliance with NPIP guidelines. They should be transported in equipment and vehicles that are regularly cleaned, disinfected, and inspected. Biosecurity protocol should be in place for equipment and personnel involved in the transport of replacement poultry. Only clean trucks may enter PA poultry farms.
- Water supplies: drinking water or water used for evaporative cooling should be sourced from a contained supply such as a well or municipal system. Drinking water from a surface water source must be treated to reduce potential disease agents. If water treatment is not available, a risk analysis should be performed to determine actions needed to mitigate risks.
- Feed and replacement litter: should be delivered, stored, and maintained in a manner that limits exposure to and contamination by wild birds, rodents, insects, and other animals. Feed spills within the perimeter buffer area should be cleaned up and disposed of in a timely fashion.
- Report elevated morbidity and mortality: Elevated levels of mortality should be reported as required in the site-specific biosecurity plan and appropriate actions should be taken to rule out reportable disease agents.
PA Department of Agriculture inspectors will complete a biosecurity risk assessment for any poultry producer who wants to assess and improve their biosecurity plans on site. To request an assessment or report poultry deaths, call the 24/7 line at 717-772-2852.