Compulsory vaccination against Salmonella typhimurium, new restrictions on the use of antibiotics and increased daily flock inspections are among the new requirements of a toughened-up British Lion Code of Practice for the egg sector.
Launched to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the quality assurance scheme in November, Lion Code 7 contains a number of changes designed to bring it up to date.
For producers, one of the main ones is to make vaccination against Salmonella typhimurium compulsory, whereas before it was just recommended. The one exception to this is for colony flocks, if a veterinary certificate is provided.
“Salmonella typhimurium has not been found in cage flocks for many years,” said British Egg Industry Council chief executive and code architect Mark Williams. “The code has always been science-based and risk-based, so we believe there is no need for colony cage birds to be vaccinated (against Salmonella typhimurium). It is more important to protect birds in free-range and organic flocks, where they may come into contact with other livestock.”
Antibiotic use is another area for attention, with the new code mirroring the British Poultry Council’s antimicrobial stewardship programme with respect to floroquinolones and cephalosporins. While the egg industry has never used such products prophylactically, it is now a requirement for egg producers to notify their packer of any use of antibiotics during the rearing or laying stage of a flock.
Other significant changes include a requirement to inspect all birds in each shed once a day, with two further flock inspections, and for free-range/organic producers to give their birds full access to the range from 21 weeks of age, rather than 22 weeks. The range should now have at least 8sq m of shade per 1,000 birds. “We aim to mirror Freedom Food standards for non-cage birds,” said Mr Williams.
Producers must also keep a copy of the Featherwel document on site and implement a number of appropriate interventions to discourage aggressive feather pecking.
The new code also formalises recommendations on staff training and requires producers to draw up contingency plans as part of their crisis management for events like an outbreak of avian influenza.
It also updates the list of DEFRA-approved disinfectants that may be used and standardises the rodent control strategies that must be applied across the whole egg supply chain.