Securing a farm is about knowing the risks of disease transmission and the ways in which animals can be exposed to disease, and taking steps to minimize those risks. Prevention through biosecurity is the most cost-effective protection from animal diseases. Building or updating a biosecurity plan will involve reviewing current practices which ultimately requires a clear understanding of the farm layout and product and people flow in order to identify where gaps in your disease prevention might occur in order to adopt practices that will reduce those risks. As a result it is strongly recommended that each producer map their farm operation.
The physical layout of the farm will have considerable impact on the ability to house flocks in a way that minimizes disease transmission risk. The layout reflects where and how closely birds are housed and how closely birds pass by one another when they are being moved. The main concerns relate to direct (beak-to-beak) transmission, aerosol transmission and contamination with potentially-infective organic matter. There is also a concern for transmission of risk materials from high-risk areas via tools and equipment and people to the pens and enclosure areas. The ease of access by service providers and visitors to the birds held in pens and other enclosed areas also represents an increased risk.
Areas that should be highlighted on the farm diagram as important areas of biosecurity risk include:
- •Access points
- •Gates and barriers
- •Visitor parking area(s)
- •The barn, other shelters and housing areas
- •Receiving and storage areas
- •Shipping area(s)
- •Manure and deadstock management areas
Addressing these risks requires a risk analysis of the locations and pathways, and the animals, people and equipment that use them. A diagram that depicts the layout of the farm, including buildings, pens (general and special-use), and pathways, that allows simulations of housing and movement of birds of different ages, disease susceptibility and disease status will help you carry out the analysis
Preparing a Map
Using a pad and pencil (or working on a printed Google map of your farm) prepare a simple map or diagram of your farm, indicating the following:
- •Home area
- •Farm buildings:
- oService areas
- •Pens and confinement areas
- •Feed storage area
- •Manure storage area
- •Deadstock pickup area or compost location
- •Driveways and lanes
- •Parking areas
- •Fuel delivery/storage area
- •Paths and walkways
- •Wells and other water sources
- •Housing and pasture areas for other farm animals
- 1.Select the Restricted Access Zone (RAZ)
Thinking about where the birds are housed and where they are likely to move about the farm, identify the production areas in which they should be protected from exposure to disease risk from outside the farm and in which they should be protected from disease cross-contamination within the farm. Also consider areas of potential traffic that are essential to the production area and areas of potential contamination that have similar risks to the active flock production areas.
- 2.Select the Controlled Access Zone (CAZ)
Once the RAZ has been determined, consider the areas that should be designated the Control Access Zone (CAZ). As described above, the CAZ contains operational facilities indirectly involved in flock production. It includes many areas in which farm service providers and farm workers would circulate in entering and leaving the production area, and when they are not actively engaged with the birds – laneways, parking areas and equipment sheds, for example. It encloses the RAZ.
- 3.Identify Access Control Points
When the zones have been designed to suit the farm’s physical layout and its production practices, access points are identified (a limited number of places at which people, animals and tools/equipment/vehicles cross into and out of the zones). Some of these will be where gates, doors, lanes and pathways already exist. Others will be defined by specific activities – the movement of manure, the location of isolation areas for sick birds, the delivery of feed, for example.
Access control points are usually physically identified, and specific practices are required to be followed whenever animals, people or tools/equipment/vehicles move into or out of the zone. These are the critical points at which the principles of excluding diseases from production areas and containing diseases within production areas are applied.
At all access control points, the key concept is to dispose of or clean and disinfect any materials, clothing, equipment, or any other fomites when moving from one risk area to another, and to require people themselves to be free of potentially-infectious material before entering a zone. This principle applies to people, equipment and vehicles, and also to any movement of birds from zone to zone.
For example, solutions for workers and visitors include:
- •Physical separation between zones,
- •Hand washing and boot cleaning stations at the access control points,
- •Availability of clean and/or zone-specific coveralls and boots or footwear coverings,
- •A dedicated area set aside for people for cleaning and disinfection and changing clothes at the access control points, and
- •A dedicated area set aside for cleaning and disinfection of equipment and materials at the access control points,
Solutions for bird movement include:
- •Physical separation between zones,
- •Sequencing of movement of birds of different disease status and relative disease susceptibility,
- •Isolation until disease status is resolved, and
- •Enhanced cleaning and disinfection of areas in which birds have been held and through which they have passed.
- 4.Identify specific risk areas
Copy the main production areas from your farm map/diagram onto a fresh sheet in larger scale. It will be useful to keep them in similar relative positions and in somewhat similar proportion as in the farm map. Identify the activities that are undertaken in each of the areas on this production-area diagram, both outside and inside the barn of the main production structure.
Looking at these and other areas that are set aside on your farm for specific activities, undertake a risk analysis on the activities and on the areas that are identified with them. This may be as simple as a classification of areas as Low, Moderate and High disease risk, based on:
- •the health condition and susceptibility of the birds that could be brought into the area
- •the nature of the activity
- •the length of stay in the area
- •the likelihood of contact with other birds
- •areas where all visitors are allowed;
- •areas where some / all visitors are restricted (e.g. should change clothing wash hands before being admitted); and
- •areas where birds/flocks of differing health status are housed (e.g. new introductions, sick animals, animals on a health program)
Preparing a list of these areas and pathways, and/or locating them on a sketch of the barn(s) and other production areas will be useful for producers in illustrating where there are areas of greater or lesser risk for disease transmission, and therefore where best practices should carefully be considered. The pathways identified for animals and other activity also point out where specific contamination risks should be addressed.
Finally, for those producers who need to design zones for different stages of your production cycles, additional versions of the diagrams and the accompanying practices may be needed in order to communicate all of the zoning options to be used on your farm.
The following page provides a place to initiate the process of drawing your farm operation. You are strongly encouraged to take this opportunity to prepare a diagram of your farm, paying particular attention to the distances between operational units, as well as distances to roads, water, and other farms.