Poultry and Biosecurity

K. Nachimuthu
Tamil Nadu Veterinary & Animal Sciences University,
Madhavaram Milk Colony – Chennai - 600 051
Email: [email protected]

Poultry farming has moved from the backyard poultry rearing to one of the most organized industry in India. As a result, egg production increased from 23300 million eggs in 1990 to 32034 million eggs in 1997. It is expected that with present growth of annual egg production, it may reach 180000 million upto 2015. Likewise, broiler meat production was 190 million kg in 1990 that may be increase to 1085 million kg in 2000. The projected figure for 2015 is 6000 million kg keeping in view the annual growth rate. To ensure the healthy status of the industry, it is important that birds should be kept in good health.

Biosecurity is a practice designed to prevent the spread of disease onto your farm. It is accomplished by maintaining the facility in such a way that there is minimal traffic of biological organisms (viruses, bacteria, rodents, etc.) across its borders. Biosecurity is the cheapest, most effective means of disease control available. No disease prevention program will work without it.

Biosecurity has three major components namely Isolation, Traffic Control and Sanitation.

Isolation refers to the confinement of animals within a controlled environment. A fence keeps your birds in, but it also keeps other animals out. Isolation also applies to the practice of separating birds by age group. In large poultry operations, all-in/all-out management styles allow simultaneous depopulation of facilities between flocks and allow time for periodic clean-up and disinfection to break the cycle of disease.

Traffic Control includes both the traffic onto your farm and the traffic patterns within the farm.

Sanitation addresses the disinfection of materials, people and equipment entering the farm and the cleanliness of the personnel on the farm.


Source contamination: Animals, feed or water that carry a biological agent and can transmit it. People, clothing or vehicles which can harbor a biological agent that when moved around can spread the agent.

Vector contamination: Rodents, wild birds, insects, fomites (such as fecal material, feathers and dust) can be wind or water transmitted etc., and introduce disease. Rodents consume and contaminate feed and can also destroy eggs and chicks.

Facility Contamination: A major source of disease transmission is people (employees, service personnel, truck drivers, vaccination crews). Facilities may also be contaminated by new flocks (chicks, pullets, breeding males, semen, etc.)


Infectious diseases can be spread from farm to farm by:

  1. Introduction of diseased birds.
  2. Introduction of healthy birds who have recovered from disease but are now carriers.
  3. Shoes and clothing of visitors or caretakers who move from flock to flock.
  4. Contact with inanimate objects (fomites) that are contaminated with disease organisms.
  5. Carcasses of dead birds that have not been disposed of properly.
  6. Impure water, such as surface drainage water.
  7. Rodents, wild animals and free-flying birds.
  8. Insects.

      Contaminated feed and feed bags.

  1. Contaminated delivery trucks, rendering trucks, live hauling trucks
  2. Contaminated premises through soil or old litter.
  3. Air-borne fomites.
  4. Egg transmission

Of all the possible breakdowns in biosecurity, the introduction of new birds and traffic pose the greatest risk to bird health. Properly managing these two factors should be a top priority on your farm.

In order to assess how much biosecurity is needed for your farm, these three factors are important:

1. Economics
2. Common Sense
3. Relative Risk

       » Helps Keep out exotic diseases such as Newcastle Disease and Avian Influenza.
       » Reduces the risk of zoonotic diseases such as salmonella becoming established.
       » Limits spread of diseases and helps to protect your neighbours, public health and the countryside.
       » Improves overall flock health.
       » Cuts costs of disease treatment.
       » Reduces losses and could improve farm profitability.

Management of Biosecurity for Poultry Facilities
Management is taking care of birds for maximum health and productivity. It requires a qualified facility manager. He should have proper training in the procedures, which are outlined in this document in order to keep the birds as healthy as possible and be able to respond quickly and forcefully to any disease condition.

There are some routine procedures and practices, which should be performed to prevent disease at any poultry facility. It is not only the vaccination and medication of the flock but also ensuring that the birds remain healthy. It is wiser to keep birds healthy than to treat them. A number of factors must be considered to achieve maximum health and productivity:

These are basically routine works or practices which should be done at every farm to prevent a flock from any harm by diseases. It is not only the vaccination and medication of the flock but also ensuring the birds to remain complete healthy. Three factors are considered to achieve maximum genetic potential and profit.

A. Management
B. Disease control
C. Minimize stress

Management is taking care of birds in very appropriate manner to have maximum production at low cost.

It includes vaccination and medication program to be carried out at proper times at a farm. Best vaccination program according to the disease reported in area should be followed.


Suitable housing, provision of good quality feed and water excellent management all contribute to minimize the stresses.

Biosecurity measures are taken in following respects.

1. Building
2. Equipment
3. Feed and water
4. Bird selection
5. Mechanical vehicles
6. Predators
7. Farm security
8. General management


Location: Ideally, facilities should be located at least 1 – 2 miles from other commercial poultry facilities and away from waterways used by migratory waterfowl. Location must be an appropriate distance from other poultry sheds, road facilities and other farm operations.

Movement: Routes through the facility should be “one way” and route personnel, vehicles and poultry from youngest birds to oldest birds and from clean areas to dirty areas and from individual poultry houses to common use employee areas. This minimizes movement of contaminants through the facility.

Construction: Construction should be of sound quality and suitable to environmental conditions of the geographic area. It should, to the extent possible, be without access points for rodents or stray animals, crevices, free of leaks and damp floors, etc. Roads should be built of all weather materials to reduce the transport of organic material on tires.

Disinfection: Disinfecting a house is key to healthy flocks. After every flock change the house should be cleaned then disinfected.

Ventilation: Proper ventilation is necessary for control of various respiratory diseases.

Temperature: Temperature control measures should be taken to avoid temperature extremes thereby avoiding stressors.


Farm equipment can be a source of disease transmission and should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Dedicated equipment, for farm use only, is preferable.


Feed should be of high quality and disinfected. It should be balanced, free from toxins and palatable. Toxins in a feed at very low level can affect productivity and general health. Water should be clean, cold in summer, warm in winter. Water and feed are important as far as disease prevention is concerned because many vaccines and medicines are administered by adding them in feed and water. Contaminated feed, lumped feed or oxidized feed or feed, which has a bad odor, should be discarded.


Selection: Birds should be purchased only from S. pullorum clean sources from National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) participants. Chicks must be tested free from S. pullorum.

Stock Density: Floor, feed and water space should be allotted according to age, breed, and type of birds. Over crowding should be avoided.

Sick And Dead Birds: Sick birds should be evaluated at a lab or by a vet. The state Department of Food and Agriculture ( DFA) can assist in this process. Dead birds should be immediately removed from the building and buried, incinerated or disposed of properly.

Vaccination And Medication: A Proper vaccination schedule for specific diseases should be followed. In case of a disease out break, notifications should be made according to a set procedure. All diagnosis should be confirmed and recorded. Expiration dates of vaccines and medicines should be recorded and expired meds disposed of.


Vehicles and people are major sources of flock contamination. Parking should be away from the poultry buildings. Vehicles entering and departing the area where poultry are housed should be washed then sprayed with a disinfectant (including tires). Personnel movement should be restricted. Protective outer clothing, including boots and headgear should be worn at all times when in and around the sheds.


Rats, mice, wild birds, fly and beetles can all cause contamination and spread disease such as salmonella. They should be kept away from buildings to the greatest extent possible and the buildings should have any access points boarded up. Flocks with outside access need protection from owls, hawks, coyotes, foxes, etc. Outside enclosures should be covered

Any damage to a facility or open access should be screened or sealed to prevent animal, rodent and wild bird access. A possible exception would be cats, which can provide effective rodent control. Also, dogs can be trained and used to keep out intruders of all types.


Floor Houses: After a flock has been depopulated, manure from around the houses should be removed. Sunlight adds to the break down the pathogens. A complete cleanout of houses between each flock is most desirable. If cleaning that often is not possible, broiler houses should have all organic materials removed, be cleaned out completely then disinfected, at least once a year.

Cage Houses: A complete cleanout and disinfection of cage houses is recommended between each flock of pullets.


Perimeters around facilities should be reasonably secure to prevent unauthorized entry. “No Trespassing” signs should be conspicuously posted. Lighting should be sufficient to allow surveillance of exterior of buildings and parking areas. Any outside storage bins or sheds should be securely locked and/or sealed to prevent tampering. Requiring positive identification, such as a driver’s license, with sign in and sign out procedures in place should control entry into facilities.


Restricted areas should be clearly marked as such. Visitors, guests and non-farm employees should not be allowed to move about the offices, product areas or sheds without an authorized escort and, if necessary, being subject to all biosecurity conditions required.


Records should be kept of all visitors to the farm, including vendors and inspectors. It should include names and addresses, dates of visits, and nature of business. Since different diseases have different incubation periods, once a disease has been identified, the farm may check the incubation period and identify potential carriers by reviewing records. All doors to poultry buildings should be locked and the keys stored in a secure location. When deliveries of chicks, pullets, poults or young breeder stock is accomplished, the entire crew should observe strict sanitary conditions since (1) The building they are entering has just been disinfected, and (2) They may have made another delivery previously and different protective clothing should be worn at each stop.


Disease prevention through vaccination is another aspect of biosecurity. Vaccination before infection occurs in a flock is the best means of protecting them. Vaccines may be live or killed. Live vaccines consist of live micro agents and can be given at a younger age than killed vaccine. They can be administered by injection, drinking water, eye drop application or inhalation. With live vaccine there is always a possibility of secondary infection so they should only be used to prevent diseases that have already been present at your facility and have been unable to be eradicated by other means. The use of live vaccines must be approved by the state through the DFA. Killed vaccines must be injected and can cause reactions. The age of birds and proper timing are very important. There are many vaccination programs for broilers, pullet’s commercial layers. The most important consideration is to avoid over or under utilization of vaccines.


The spread of disease between facilities is a major concern. Poultry must be purchased only from sources, which are certified disease free and have records of appropriate vaccinations. Farms should maintain records of poultry sold and their final destination


Control of human traffic is essential. Lock doors, ban all visitors and allow building access only to authorized and necessary personnel who are wearing properly sanitized footwear, coveralls and headgear. Human hands may also spread infection and should be sanitized before entering a poultry building and before leaving the farm. The use of disinfecting foot dips or footpads at entrances and exits is desirable. A footpad can be fabricated using rubber pans with carpet pads cut to fit the pan and saturated with disinfectant.


The most important first step is to obtain chicks from a reliable source. You can get a list of National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) hatcheries from the DFA. Always clean the brooder house thoroughly and disinfect it before a new shipment of chicks arrives. The floor should be covered with 2-4 inches of clean, dry litter (dry pine shavings, shredded newspaper or sawdust—hardwood shavings or hay are not recommended).

The temperature at the chicks level should be 95 degrees F through the first week and then be reduced 5 degrees a week until it reaches 70 degrees F. You should observe the chicks to ensure they have enough room and ready access to food and water.


The major consideration for biosecurity at egg processing facilities can be summed up as the control of traffic and hygiene. Processing plants may receive eggs from multiple locations and they arrive with equipment/racks/pallets from multiple sources. This situation adds to the potential for cross contamination.

Rodent and insect control around the facility should also be a priority.

Egg flats, racks trolleys and pallets should all be considered contaminated and be both high pressure and hot water washed and sanitized between uses.


In general the management of small flocks revolves around the same principles of biosecurity as large flocks. The three major components are:

Isolation - The confinement of birds in a controlled environment including fencing, isolation by age group.
Traffic Control
- Of the traffic coming and going and traffic patterns within the farm.
Sanitation - Which addresses the disinfection of materials, people and equipment entering the farm and the cleanliness of persons living there. Disease can spread in the same manner as addressed elsewhere in this text: Insects, rodents, people visiting from other farms, contaminated feed or litter, etc. Always dispose of dead birds right away by rendering, burning, composing or sending to a sanitary landfill.

The greatest risks for disease in small flocks are the introduction of new birds and traffic to farm. New birds are a problem because they may be diseased and not appear so. The sensible thing to do is isolate them in a separate pen as far from the resident birds as possible for a period of two to four weeks.


  1. Properly implemented biosecurity measures will limit the spread of disease- causing organisms.
  2. When these are combined with disinfection and sanitation, vaccination and strategic treatments, many pathogens can be reduced to non-infectious levels.
  3. Remember - different infectious agents spread by different methods, so use appropriate measures against each type.
  4. Site location and design, and density of poultry in a given geographical area, are vital. When planning a new site, there is the opportunity for very effective biosecurity to be implemented at the design stage.
  5. All sites must have traffic - in personnel, feed, stock, and equipment - but this should be kept to an absolute minimum.
  6. Only essential vehicles should have access to a site, and these should be sanitised where possible on arrival.
  7. Use protective clothing to prevent pathogen spread.
  8. Priority should be given to biosecurity measures on breeding sites since errors here are magnified greatly at the commercial level.
  9. Similar priority should be given at the hatchery level.
  10. Effective vermin control must be maintained.

Plan and engineer your operations to block situations which may expose your flock to disease. Equipment and house repairs can be scheduled after your flock has been marketed. A simple room for changing clothes can be provided for visitors.

Locate new poultry buildings and facilities as far as possible from other poultry operations and poultry traffic. Do business only with firms and organizations who consistently practice high biosecurity standards.

Try to design your own Biosecurity Insurance Program. Keep in mind that biosecurity expenditures should be viewed not as unnecessary costs, but rather as short- and long-range investments in a safer, more profitable future.


Home Flocks


  1. Keep poultry in pens, houses, or comfortable cages.
  2. Practice "all in -- all out" management.
  3. Clean, wash and disinfect housing and equipment at least once a year.
  4. Promptly bury, compost, or burn dead poultry. Check with your state veterinarian or Department of Agriculture representative on acceptable carcass disposal options.
  5. Keep free-flying birds, waterfowl and wild seabirds away from your flock.


  1. Allow dirty or nondisinfected poultry coops, crates or trucks on your farm.
  2. Mix or keep various types of fowl, including pet birds.
  3. House together poultry of different ages.
  4. Visit poultry buildings on other farms.
Commercial Flocks


  1. Post signs to restrict and control visitors.
  2. Provide and insist on clean hats, coveralls and boots for all visitors entering your poultry houses.
  3. Clean, wash and disinfect your housing and equipment for broilers, turkeys and layers at least once a year.
  4. Bury, burn or compost dead poultry. Check with your state veterinarian or Department of Agriculture representative on acceptable carcass disposal options.
  5. Enforce strict control programs, for rodents and insects--especially flies.


  1. Allow stray poultry, dogs or cats--not even one--on your premises.
  2. Keep--or allow caretakers to keep--poultry or other pet birds at home.
  3. Let wild birds, waterfowl or seabirds in or near your buildings.

Biosecurity is a crucial component of good management practices. An effective biosecurity plan should be flexible and open to new technology as it develops or becomes necessary. Poultry producers who implement a biosecurity plan to control pathogens and their vectors will reduce economic losses caused by diseases.

Source : IPSACON-2005

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