Free range egg producers urged to tighten biosecurity

Rapidly removing dead birds and insisting visitors change clothing before entering a farm were two key tips offered at a recent seminar.

Speaking at the Livestock Health South East seminar held at Sparsholt College, Hampshire, David Parsons of the Poultry Health Centre in Wiltshire highlighted to producers the ways that disease can enter a bird. “These include through the vent, cuts, nose, eyes, egg shell, mouth, ear and navel.”

One key route was the mouth. Therefore removing dead birds quickly from the floor was crucial as birds are curious. “They peck and then ingest material and become infected. It is a particular means of spread for diseases such as pasteurella and erysipelas.”

“Regularly walk flocks and get birds out quickly,” he advised.

He also urged producers to install a simple garden shed at the farm entrance with some paper overalls and wellies for vets and other visitors to use. “Vets go on many units and can be a source of spread. You don’t want a vet’s wellies all over your unit.

“Many free range units don’t have this and it is the least that I would expect when visiting.”

He also focused on other routes onto a farm such as salmonella spread via keyes trays. He urged producers using fibre trays to insist on new ones each time, as reusing them can lead to infection getting onto a unit. With reusable plastic trays, he recommended that producers check for cleanliness and send any back that look dirty.

“It is best to be safe. You could go further by swabbing trays and testing for salmonella as your packer will then know you are monitoring trays and they will ensure they are clean.”

Mick Dennett of Humphrey Feeds added that, in his opinion, a key factor in keeping flocks healthy is to source birds from the same rearer. Birds will, therefore, have similar vaccination protection and will have been reared under the same regime.