“If you have a set of biosecurity rules and procedures so exhaustive that the document would do serious damage if dropped on your foot, you don’t have a plan, you have a problem. Biosecurity rules are intended to reduce risk, but if they are incomprehensible, overwhelming, ignored, outdated or essentially useless, it’s time for an overhaul,” says David Shapiro, director of veterinary services at Perdue Farms.

During his “Biosecurity: Real World Biosecurity Strategies to Minimize Animal Health and Food Safety Risks presentation,” he reviewed essential biosecurity procedures pertaining to poultry production at the Biosecurity: Revisiting the Basics and Implementing New Strategies program held during the 2014 International Production & Processing Expo. The program was sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.

“Set priorities,” Shapiro said. “If you are considering a new rule, do not think about the rule; think about how much it reduces the risk of disease transmission.”

“There is no such thing as spontaneous generation of disease. So if there’s an outbreak at your facility, it’s a reality check, a reminder that your biosecurity failed,” according to Carl Heeder, DVM, of Zoetis, during his presentation.

The theory of biosecurity is that it is a set of preventative measures to reduce the risk of transmission, but in reality it has to be a culture dedicated to reducing disease, he explained. Failure has several causes. It can result from the unknown: what didn’t you know about conditions on your farm, employee movement and risk, maintenance, equipment sharing, the status of neighboring farms, or who’s visiting your site and how they behave once they are on the premises. Without current information, you could be overlooking significant risk factors.

Nick Dorko, DVM, global head of veterinary services for Aviagen, observed that outbreaks can teach some difficult lessons that ultimately improve biosecurity, at least from a veterinary perspective. The H5N1 epidemic of about a decade ago “greatly improved biosecurity procedures, led to better cleaning and disinfection, and eliminated some live bird markets. Open houses are also less common now,” he said. But in some areas, prevention strategies need to be stronger. The three most important steps to take are to eliminate multi-age farms, improve showers and ban outside vehicles from farms.

More from Southeast Farm Press

Stage set for Southeast cattle producers to make money in 2014

Research aims to take the guesswork out of determining peanut maturity

Farm bill primer: The basics of what to expect in near future