No Antibiotics. EVER.

By: Rob Larose, President & CEO of BioSafe Systems
I do not like the word “never” and do not want to be a hypocrite. However, I do think that limiting the use of antibiotics is a good strategy for livestock production as well as careful use in human health treatments.
Biosecurity procedures protect humans or animals against diseases that may exist in crops, livestock or living organisms. Biosecurity measures must be the cornerstone of the effort from start to finish. This does not have to be an expensive program, but it does need to be ever present and ongoing. Just like a food safety program, it must be part of the operations’ everyday culture and methods.

These Biosecurity measures must be centered around the following:

  • Introduction of diseased birds
    All incoming birds should be certified “clean.”
  • Clean shoes and clothing of visitors/farm workers who move from flock to flock
    This should be standard protocol, with each farm controlling who enters their facilities, ensuring that their shoes and vehicles are decontaminated. This operation can be as simple or as complicated as one may want to make it, but at a minimum, having good documentation and a foot bath with a properly labeled disinfectant will work.

  • Dispose of bird carcasses properly
    Have a proper way of disposing dead birds away from the growing area and a procedure that covers best practices in gathering and transporting dead birds to the incinerator.

  • Pay attention to impure water, such as surface drainage water 
    This is an important factor. Most farms do not pay enough attention to this critical part of animal health. Without the applications of antibiotics, it becomes imperative to provide the cleanest water and transport this water into the cleanest piping system possible. Farm water can he high in pH, iron, calcium and contain big populations of algae, bacteria and fungi, which can become detriments to gut and bird health. Many times, the potable water piping and conveyance systems have biofilms that have been established within the piping and may further harbor pathogens and cause line and piping blockage.

    An effective water treatment program can help eliminate the microorganisms that contribute to poor gut health and disease. A good water treatment program will more than pay for itself in terms of increased bird health and feed conversion.

  • Rodents, wild animals and free-flying birds exist in unison
    A “Zero Tolerance” program allows rodents and birds to exist within poultry houses and methods should be used to prevent incursions by birds and rodents. This program states that if any dangerous substance is present in a product, it is not suitable for human consumption. Dangerous substances include chemicals or feces. Newer products mean that they may be applied with the birds present.

  • Insect control plan is a necessity
    An effective, insect control plan is of paramount importance to the ultimate health of the flock. Insects are one of the prime vectors of diseased organisms. Newer and greener insect control is being introduced and combines the use of biological controls that infect poultry pests such as darkling beetles with botanical insecticides that interrupt the life cycle of insects like mites and flies.

  • Contaminated feed can cause damage
    This can be challenging. A good selection of important feed suppliers, proper storage of the feed once on the farm, and protection from rodents, birds and insects can help the proper nutrients survive.

  • Contaminated delivery, rendering & live hauling trucks can spread disease quickly
    Good biosecurity procedures, as outlined, should be applied to suppliers delivering products to the farm. These trucks can be the prime mover of contamination from farm to farm if not properly managed. Travel time and distance will determine if the poultry is frozen or fresh. Sanitizing properly is ideal for lowering the possibility of disease lingering.

  • Sanitizing premises will protect more for longer 
    A couple of the best practices to keep weeds away from poultry houses are to keep trash in covered receptacles and allow for good drainage to shed water away from houses. Particular attention should be paid to the regular cleaning and sanitation of all water and feed conveyance systems, cleaning and sanitizing evaporative coolers, fan blades and treating the water used in the evaporative cooler.
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