It's About More Than Avian Influenza

Biosecurity:  It’s not just about targeting one virus.  Nor is it a topic for discussion only one time of year.  Nor is it a concern only for the grower. 

There are numerous pathogens that year round have a deleterious impact on both farm and processing operations.

The poultry industry has successfully developed and adopted several bio-security procedures and technologies in recent years, but most of those focus on human visitors who come in the front door invited.

The back door, on the other hand, has been left wide open for non-human visitors – though those visitors were invited in too.

The composting shed – even when managed properly – is in essence an open air food source for local scavengers including buzzards, foxes, raccoons and feral cats.  In fact, that food source is so abundant it actually creates a vermin population that otherwise would not be present on the farm.

Depending upon the scavenger, “local” could mean a 5-50 mile radius from the farm – a range that undoubtedly includes a water source that also serves non-local animals, such as migratory waterfowl. 

Of course, the composting shed is also home to a robust fly population. 

A fly’s range is much more limited than the scavenger’s – but a fly doesn't need to go far from the composter to pose a serious risk.  Flies are known to carry several poultry pathogens, including Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter and avian influenza virus.

When done properly, composting kills all pathogens.  (Of course, that means the opposite is true too.)  But the composting process takes a month or more to complete – providing the perfect breeding ground for several generations of flies in the interim.

Why Risk It?

Instead of composting, dispose of routine mortality in sealed freezer collection units.  This will significantly reduce the number of animals and flies on the farm, thereby reducing the risk of transmission.

A custom collection vehicle arrives between broiler flocks to empty the routine mortality so the units are ready for the next flock.*

*No collection occurs if a farm is quarantined.  All mortality, whether composted or frozen, is disposed of in accordance with the state veterinarian’s emergency response guidelines.

Migratory waterfowl (ducks, geese and swans) are the natural reservoirs and serve as carriers for avian influenza viruses. These birds do not get sick from the infection but shed the virus in their feces and contaminate bodies of water such as lakes, rivers and ponds. People and animals or objects that come in contact with infected manure from these birds may then spread the virus to susceptible domestic poultry such as chickens and turkeys.
— University of Maryland, Extension, Poultry
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