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Poultry biosecurity basics

Two people putting on protective boots before entering a barn.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Minnesota and the Midwest can cause great loss to commercial poultry farms. HPAI represents a change in what avian producers have come to expect, given spring introductions of avian influenza are usually rare. Biosecurity is key to preventing or reducing the extent of possible virus introduction.

Biosecurity basics for on-farm employees

  • Isolation

  • Flow control

  • Sanitation

  • Cleaning and disinfection

HPAI risk usually is caused by indirect or direct contact with virus-contaminated people, equipment and wild birds.

Line of separation

With introductions into single barns on multi-barn sites, barn biosecurity is key. You need a line of separation around each barn in addition to the separation area for the farm unit. Lines of separation define clean areas from dirty areas.

  • Always assume the area around the barn is contaminated.

  • Avoid bringing outside contamination inside the barn.

  • Have a secure entry of people and equipment to the barn.

Avoiding biosecurity errors

Perimeter buffer area and lines of separation outlined on aerial view of a farm site.
Examples of a perimeter buffer area (red) and lines of separation (yellow) on a poultry farm site

Barn entry

  • Post barn entry and exit protocols that provide lines of separation.

  • Provide barn-specific clothing, supplies and equipment to reduce traffic between barns and other farm areas.

  • Clean and disinfect anything that enters the barn.

  • Review protocols with farm staff and get input from staff and others on how to improve.

Common biosecurity break excuses

None of these excuses are acceptable reasons for breaking biosecurity protocols.

  • I am only going to spend a few minutes in the barn so I don’t need to put on barn-specific clothing.

  • I have an emergency and need to fix a fan, feed line, etc. and the tools are in the other barn. I will just run over there quickly and bring them back.

  • I skipped putting on boots and coveralls or using hand sanitizer because the supplies weren’t available.

  • I don’t want to give up my lucky ball cap. It goes with me everywhere.

  • The door to the barn is locked and I have an armful of supplies and can’t unlock the door. So I put the boxes on the ground and then unlock the door.

  • I leave the entryway door open for convenience while I’m working in the barn.

  • I was hunting and decided to stop by the farm and see how the flock was doing.

  • I’ll set the dead birds outside the door and deal with them later.

  • Smith is going to work for me over the weekend. Ummm…I think they know the biosecurity protocols?

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For service providers and nonfarm employees

Every person entering and exiting a farm site must understand and follow the biosecurity protocols the farm has in place. Biosecurity is key to keeping animals healthy and farms productive.

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Authors: Sally Noll, Extension poultry scientist; Carol Cardona Extension specialist, poultry virologist; Abby Schuft, poultry Extension educator; Kevin Janni, Extension engineer

Reviewed in 2021

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