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
- Flow control
- 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
- 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 unlocked 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?
A survey of poultry farms by Racicot and coworkers, 2011, 2012 using video and audits to track compliance revealed:
Few facilities posted barn entry protocols.
Barn entry protocols for farm personnel barn weren’t as strict as visitor protocol.
While most farms used some inside/outside separation when entering the barn, few took added precautions such as washing hands and changing to barn-specific clothing.
People followed entry protocols less closely for short visits.
Defining clean and dirty areas at entry influenced protocol compliance. Compliance was less if a physical separation of these areas wasn’t present.
Some unidentified individuals were videotaped in the barns.
Most biosecurity errors involved cross-contamination of clean areas (barn) and contaminated (outside) at entry.
The swine industry moved to an entry system called the Danish Entry to overcome problems with swine viruses. The keys to the Danish entry system are:
A biosecure entrance to the farm.
The entrance area has separate clean and dirty areas (line of separation).
Upon entry in the “dirty” area:
People remove their outer clothing and footwear.
Wash and disinfect hands.
Move to a clean area where clean protective clothing, such as boots and coveralls, are provided (boots should be put on before coveralls).
People complete the protocol in reverse when exiting the building.
Risk and Reward: Biosecurity Game
Preventing avian influenza or other disease outbreaks on poultry and livestock farms takes a community of people working together. The community may be family or staff on a single farm, or neighbors that support a livestock industry in their area.
Effective biosecurity relies on decision points among multiple people often separated in space and time. This 20-minute game starts the conversation, introduces some basic concepts like Line of Separation and Perimeter Buffer Area, and focuses on disease transfer by humans. The game requires a few groups of two to four people.
To get started:
- Select a moderator to read through the Moderator Guide and help with setting up and playing the game.
- Split into small groups of two to four people. Each group will need a set of supplies and a printed copy of the Quick Set-up Guide, labels, and an evaluation sheet.
- Watch the video to guide you through gameplay. You can pause the video during the game to complete tasks or discuss concepts with your group.
For those interested in playing with larger groups and going deeper into scenarios on farms or around communities, we recommend the game Risk in the Community and Environment (R.I.C.E). Instead of candy, R.I.C.E uses rice. Please contact Abby Schuft (email@example.com) or Erin Cortus (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Download the materials for the game, including instructions with links to videos, labels to print out, and an evaluation.
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.
Contact the farm owner or manager to help you through their biosecure protocol. Protocols may differ by farm. Some farms may require days of downtime between visits to other farms.
Ensure that you clean and disinfect all of your tools and equipment after every use. Keeping disinfectant sprays and disposable gloves and boot covers in your service vehicle may be helpful.
Be aware of the common ways disease might be introduced to a farm. People may carry disease onto a farm by:
- Boots or footwear
- Hand tools
- Electronic devices
- Unwashed body
Vehicles may also introduce disease to farms including:
- Feed trucks
- Rendering trucks
- Waste or recycling trucks traveling to a farm site or home
- Manure handling equipment
- Livestock trucks and trailers
- ATV’s, UTV’s, and other tractors
Biosecurity often starts at the outer boundary of a farm site, known as a perimeter buffer area. This boundary separates the barns and animal areas from other areas on the farm site. Make sure you understand where this boundary is, what items are allowed to cross the boundary, and the protocol for you, your equipment, and service vehicle.
A second boundary known as the line of separation may exist in a few locations on the farm site. Barn walls often define the line of separation, which separates the animals inside from potential outside disease exposure. Lines of separation separate “clean” and “dirty” areas. Barn entries will have a line of separation that you will cross as you enter or exit. Farms may require additional steps, but at a minimum when entering a barn:
- Enter through designated biosecure entries.
- Remove and store outside clothing and footwear on the dirty side.
- Disinfect hands after removing outside clothing and footwear.
- Step over the line of separation to the biosecure, clean side.
- Put on barn-specific clothing and footwear.
- Enter animal area.
Farms may require additional steps, but at a minimum when exiting a barn:
- Always exit barns through designated biosecure entries.
- Remove and store barn-specific clothing and footwear on the biosecure, clean side.
- Disinfect hands.
- Step over the line of separation to the dirty side.
- Put on outside clothing and footwear.
- Exit through the designated biosecure exit.
Reviewed in 2023