We're here for you: A message from Canadian Chicken Farmers regarding COVID-19

What is Biosecurity?

On a chicken farm, effective biosecurity is an absolute must. In this article we look at which programs enforce the standards for food safety and the care and handling of chickens on Canadian chicken farms.

What is Biosecurity?

When it comes to chicken farming, biosecurity refers to the measures taken to control or prevent the introduction and spread of infectious disease, which can significantly lower the productivity and profitability of a poultry farm. Some pathogens may also pose risks to human health.

On chicken farms, the objective of biosecurity is to: 

  • Prevent the introduction of infectious disease agents.
  • Prevent the spread of disease agents from farm to farm and from an infected area to an uninfected area 
  • Minimize the incidence and spread of microorganisms of public health significance. 

Canadian Chicken Farms Are Big on Biosecurity

All Canadian chicken farmers follow a national On-Farm Food Safety Program and Animal Care Program, recognized by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), respectively. These programs enforce standards for food safety and the care and handling of chickens. Combined, the program requirements include 195 mandatory and 42  highly recommended elements, incorporating:

Access Management: Designation of specific zones and control of the entry, movement and exit of flocks.

Animal Health Management: Includes the ongoing monitoring of bird health, nutrition, animal introduction, movement and removal.

Operational Management: Defines measures to secure and maintain the environment, premises, building, equipment and vehicles, as well as mortality and manure management. 

Entering a Chicken Barn in 7 Easy Steps 

People can carry infectious agents (viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites) on their footwear, clothing, hands, and even in their vehicles that can infect chicken. To lower the risks they pose to chicken, farmers follow a set of procedures to minimize cross-contamination while moving personnel in and out of a barn. While this process may vary slightly from farm to farm, the goal is to create a separation between the internal environment (the chicken area), and the external environment (the non-chicken area).

For example, procedures for barn entry could include: 

  1. Remove soil and other organic material from clothing and footwear before entering the anteroom. 
  2. Step into the anteroom, remove outerwear and store in a designated area.
  3. Wash or sanitize hands.
  4. Remove outside footwear. 
  5. Step over a demarcation line or barrier and put on designated inside-barn footwear.
  6. Put on barn-designated outerwear (Wash hands again if clean gloves are not used).
  7. Step into the chicken housing area.

Other on-farm safety measures may include: 

  • Signage and gates at access points to the farm to discourage unauthorized entry. 
  • Requirements for visitors and service providers to wear protective gear provided by the farmer.
  • Disinfecting footwear in footbaths if applicable, or changing into dedicated footwear or using plastic/disposable footwear in each barn.
  • Minimizing vehicle movements onto the farm.
  • Pest control programs to reduce the risk of contamination by rodents and other pests.

Responsible Biosecurity

The Raised by a Canadian Farmer On-Farm Food Safety and Animal Care Programs emphasize proper animal care/health, cleanliness and safety throughout each step of the farming cycle and includes annual farm audits and third-party audits, ensuring accountability from every farm. The program is mandatory, and 100 percent of Canadian chicken farmers are accredited, demonstrating that the highest animal care standards are practiced on their farms.

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