for Commercial Poultry Flocks in Ontario
Table of Contents
- Common Source of Infection
- Designation of Zones
- Entry/Movement/Exit Controls
- Animal Introduction/Movement/Removal
- Ongoing Monitoring of Health Status
- Other Considerations
- Operational Management
Infectious diseases such as Avian Influenza (AI) and Infectious
Laryngeotracheitis (ILT) pose a constant threat to commercial poultry
production. By implementing and diligently maintaining a sound biosecurity
program, poultry producers can minimize the risk of introducing
infectious diseases to their flocks, or spreading them to other
flocks. Outbreaks of AI in Ontario, British Columbia and the United
States emphasize the need for producers to implement a sound biosecurity
Common Source of Infection
Birds can contract diseases via direct contact with infected birds,
and/or indirect contact through exposure to contaminated people,
animals or items. The most common sources are:
- infected wild or domestic birds (birds can be infectious, but
not show clinical signs)
- wild or domestic animals (e.g., cats and dogs)
- vermin (e.g., rodents and insects)
- contaminated people carrying the virus on their hands, clothing,
footwear and hair (e.g., employees, visitors, veterinarians, vaccination
crews, catching crews, haulers, meter readers, deadstock pickup,
- contaminated vehicles and other farm equipment (e.g., manure
trucks and spreaders, tractors, feed trucks, turkey loaders, barn
- contaminated poultry equipment (e.g., hauling/transport equipment,
catching equipment, feeders and waterers)
- contaminated water, feed, bedding, soil and manure
- airborne dust, dander and feathers
The ultimate goal of biosecurity protocols is to control and/or
minimize these sources of contamination.
Major Components of a Good Biosecurity Program
A good biosecurity program must consider all aspects of the operation
including environmental contamination, farm management, disease
prevention, nutrient management and visitor control. Additionally,
the program must be both practical and scientifically sound, to
ensure consistent and effective protection against costly contagious
diseases. Biosecurity is based on two main concepts:
- exclusion: keeping the disease out of the flock
- containment: if introduced, preventing disease from spreading
within or between premises
An effective biosecurity program should encompass both exclusion
and containment. This is often done in three components referred
to here as Access Management, Health Management and Operational
Management. This is in accordance with the National Avian On-Farm
Biosecurity Standard. The biosecurity risks are unique for every
poultry operation, thus individual programs should be customized
with the help of a veterinarian.
Access Management: Preventing the introduction of pathogens
into your flock is the first step. It is essential to follow proper
protocols for movement of people, equipment and birds onto and within
the farm. The best approach is to create two zones:
- An outer area commonly referred to as Controlled Access Zone
(CAZ), which encompasses the entire area where poultry are kept
- The Restricted Access Zone (RAZ) is a more restricted area,
located inside the CAZ, to which access is more tightly controlled.
- Each access point to the CAZ or RAZ is referred to as a Controlled
Access Point (CAP). These entrances are used by all traffic, such
as workers, equipment, feed trucks, etc.
Figure 1. Controlled Access Points and Controlled Access
Zone restricts access to poultry.
The following recommendations are designed to control access to
Designation of Zones
- Install a biosecurity sign at each CAP (e.g., the farm gate
and the entrance of each poultry production area) to instruct
unauthorized people not to enter the premises.
- Install visibly defined barriers and access points with clear
written instruction to be followed within the access zone (CAZ
or RAZ) for all areas where poultry are kept or handled.
- Lock all doors to the poultry houses at all times. Ropes, stakes,
gates and fences are also effective barriers for the CAZ. Allow
only certain authorized and necessary personnel to enter poultry
production area. Regardless of the method used, it is very important
to ensure that access to the CAZ can be closed/blocked if necessary.
- Ensure everyone is clear about the biosecurity protocol, including
what the rules are and why they are in place.
- Prior to entering the RAZ, have well-maintained facilities in
place for hand washing, changing and/or covering of footwear and
clothing. Ideally, a transition room or anteroom should be provided
- A shower-in, shower-out policy for all visitors and employees
is the most effective approach. This may be more practical for
breeder and primary breeder flocks.
Figrure 2. Danish entry system has proven effective at keeping
disease out of barns. Photo courtesy of Ontario Swine Health Advisory
Board. Photo A. Enter the barn by the Danish Entry system. Stop
when you reach the barrier. Photo B. Remove clothing and hang on
hooks. Photo C. Disinfect hands using sanitizer. Photo D. On the
clean side put on barn coveralls and boots. Photo E. Enter the barn.
- All vehicle traffic should be kept at a minimum distance from
buildings. Designate an area for visitor parking away from poultry
barns, outside the CAZ.
- Locate a drop box at a sufficient distance from the barn for
or courier deliveries, bills and receipts.
- All movements onto, off of and within the premises should be
recorded, including movement of people, poultry, vehicles, manure,
feed, equipment, etc.
- Keep a visitor log. For visitors to record their names, the
nature of their business and their contact information.
- Ensure all farm personnel and visitors have not been in contact
with other birds within 24-hours of entering the premises.
- Ensure all visitors and farm personnel wear Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE). This includes clean coveralls (disposable is
preferred), mask, hair protection (cap) and disposable footwear
(if boots are used, have designated boots for each barn and thoroughly
clean and disinfect after each visit). Separate attire should
be used for each poultry production area. Clothing worn on farm
should be washed separately from household laundry using hot water
and heated drying.
- Wash hands with soap and water or sanitizer before and after
each visit. Wear disposable gloves.
- If using a footbath, follow label instructions to ensure the
disinfectant concentration and contact time are sufficiently satisfied
for proper sanitation. Footbaths must be changed regularly; dirty
foot-baths increase the risk of pathogen spread. Scrub boots so
that they are free of organic material before stepping into the
- Clean and disinfect (C&D) any equipment that is used in
the production area before entering and after leaving. This is
especially important for catching equipment if only part of the
flock is shipped to the processing plant (thinning out or partial
pick up) or if the equipment is used in more than one production
- Ensure that all disposable PPE is left on the farm for all visitors,
including catching crews and other service industry personnel.
- All biosecurity protocols must be followed by all who enter
Managing Flock Health: It is important to know the health status
of your flock, in order to effectively recognize disease conditions
and take appropriate action.
- To minimize the risk of disease, it is preferred to have an
"all-in, all-out" system (single age flock at any given
time). To be considered "all-in, all-out" placement
or shipping periods cannot exceed 7 days.
- If an "all-in, all-out" system is not possible, additional
precautions are necessary for multi-age flocks:
- Always visit from youngest to oldest and from healthy to sick
- Allow for adequate separation and quarantine of at least 28
days for new poultry being added to an existing flock.
- Purchase and introduce only birds with known health status and
updated health records.
- Maximize downtime between flocks, as follows:
- dry cleaning, plus C&D: at least 7 days
- dry cleaning only: at least 14 days
- no manure removal, dry cleaning, or C&D: at least 21 days
Ongoing Monitoring of Health Status
- A daily flock check is important for early identification of
sick birds. Be aware of signs of disease in birds. Early detection
can limit the impact of a disease outbreak and allow for a faster
return to normal operation. Signs that may indicate disease include
(but are not limited to):
- high mortality
- drop in egg production
- reduced feed/water consumption
- "snicking", swollen sinuses, lethargy, diarrhea with
- Remove dead birds daily and cull compromised birds.
- Maintain daily records of mortality and culls.
- Establish a written flock health program with your veterinarian,
including vaccination and medication protocols.
- Minimize contact with other poultry, including neighbouring
- Do not allow any farm employees to keep backyard or pet birds,
or attend live bird shows or markets.
- Keep pets out of the poultry production area.
- Develop an action plan to direct day-to-day handling of dead
birds and keep it easily accessible. Any dead or culled birds
should be considered infectious and handled accordingly to ensure
the containment of potential pathogens.
- Dead birds should only be moved and stored in isolated, sealed
containers (i.e., pails with lids, freezers, barrels with lids)
away from poultry production areas.
- Carcass disposal, including on-farm disposal (i.e., incineration,
composting and burial) should be done in accordance with the Nutrient
Management Act (2002) and any other federal, provincial and municipal
regulations and guidelines. . If rendering is used, minimize biosecurity
risks by keeping deadstock pick up away from production facilities.
- Clean and disinfect all used equipment (such as barrels) at
the end of carcass pick up.
- If carcasses are not frozen for pick up, permanently dispose
of them within 48 hours.
- Federal, provincial and municipal regulations must be followed.
- Never use manure from an unknown source on poultry farms.
- Control the manure storage site by limiting access, locating
it away from barns and preferably compost the manure before spreading
onto land, especially in disease situation.
- If manure is removed from the farm at the end of each flock,
manure should be damped and tarped before leaving the farm.
Premises, building, equipment and vehicle sanitation
- Clean and disinfect (C&D) poultry barns between flocks especially
if infectious disease was present in the previous flock. Barns
should be free of litter and debris; pressure washed with warm
water and detergent, and allowed to dry before applying disinfectant.
- At cleanout, empty feed lines, boots and hoppers.
- Water and ventilation systems must also be part of the C&D
- If barns are connected, include any middle room or hallway in
all cleaning and disinfection procedures.
- Avoid borrowing or lending farm equipment. If equipment is shared,
clean and disinfect before and after use. Complete removal of
any organic material before disinfection is very important.
Facility Maintenance and Water/Feed/Bedding Management
- Ensure buildings and storage facilities are regularly maintained
including ventilation, watering and feeding systems.
- Drinking water must be potable. Regular testing and proper sanitation
is essential, especially if using surface water source. There
are different methods of water sanitation. If applying chlorine,
monitor the level of active chlorine and water pH for effective
chlorination. Consult with your veterinarian to implement a water
- Clean and disinfect water lines completely between flocks to
avoid build up of biofilm that can harbor pathogens and inactivate
- Obtain all bedding and feed from reputable suppliers and store
- Keep storage areas free of moisture, pests and protected from
Pest Control Program
Insects, rodents, wild birds and other wildlife can act as disease
vectors. In order for pest management to be effective, proper production
management as well as mechanical and chemical control methods must
be implemented and monitored.
- Screen all building inlets, fans and ledges. Plug or repair
any gaps and holes in the structure.
- Clean feed and water spills in the farm environment, especially
outside poultry facilities. Ensure feed bins are covered and feeding
systems are closed.
- On ranges, provide sufficient fencing and covered space to house
poultry during seasonal risk times to protect against predators,
pets and other livestock.
- Maintain a 1 m (3ft) apron of gravel/crushed stone around the
perimeter of barns.
- Develop a management plan to deter wild birds.
- Keep vegetation and debris cleared around poultry houses, as
these will attract rodents.
For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300