With the worst reported avian influenza (AI) outbreaks afflicting the UKs poultry industry it is now the time to take the precautions to reduce the risks of AI to your flock. This article provides methods of decreasing the risk of inhouse AI and the strategies you can adopt from Vencomatic’s poultry experts.
Cleaning is important in any working environment, allowing for better monitoring of bird activity, reducing places for vermin to hide, and reducing dust where respiratory diseases can multiply. Cleaning needs to be daily, organised, and thorough to maintain the highest levels of hygiene inside the house. Air blowers can be used to remove dust with the birds becoming complacent to the sound when implemented into their daily routine. After manure removal it is good practice to clean the manure pits as rodents can live there with the ability to infect your house. Broken egg trays must be emptied, cleaned, and the waste disposed of securely as this attracts rats and mice which eat the discarded egg.
Worn Feed Tracks and Augers
Feed tracks must be inspected and maintained to prevent feed spillage. Feed which cannot be accessed by the birds will attract rats and other outside animals into your poultry house bringing AI and other infections with them. It is important to get your feed tracks serviced or replaced by qualified engineers to prevent and mitigate leaking in the future.
Regular internal inspection must be carried out inside the poultry house to identify points of vermin access, droppings, and nests. It is recommended by Defra that you have regular inspections from a qualified and reputable vermin control company to regularly monitor the house.
Biosecurity is paramount as the first line of defence against AI. Minimising external human contact with your birds and access from unessential employees is an important step in protecting your birds. When contact with the birds is inevitable precautions must be in place such as dipping stations, boot covers and the changing of boots between different environments. Doing this minimises the chances of AI from outside infecting the house. Investments must be made in industry specific disinfecting products made for the poultry sector to insure an effective eradication of pathogens. Using hand sanitiser should be used before and after contact with the birds.
Enrichment is incredibly important for the birds during AI lockdowns as it reduces stress and injurious pecking. It is important that the correct precautions are followed when installing enrichment, such as pecking pans, to not bring AI into the house. This can be done by removing any plastic packaging outside of the shed and not allowing the supplier access to the birds. We at Vencomatic UK understand the devastating effect that AI poses for our farmers with our engineers following strict protocols to prevent transmission.
When carrying out inspections look for holes where light is present as it identifies access points for birds, mice, and rats. These animals are a threat to biosecurity, bringing infections inside your house.