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General Producer Guide - National Avian On-Farm Biosecurity Standard
Section 2 - Animal Health Management

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2.1 Animal Introduction, Movement, Removal

2.1.1 Target Outcome - Each placement or removal of poultry is recorded and carried out with appropriate scheduling, isolation or segregation to minimize the introduction or spread of disease.

Producer Guidance

  • Schedule movement of poultry to minimize potential exposure to other poultry on the premises.

All in/all out - All poultry within a new flock are placed in an empty RAZ within seven days. When the flock is removed from the RAZ, the process is again completed within seven days.

"All in/all out" scheduling should occur, keeping the completion time of poultry arrival and shipment as short as possible, first within each barn and ideally within the entire premises.

  • Consider taking additional precautions when "all in/all out" scheduling is not practised, as outlined in the guidance for Target Outcome 2.1.3. Specifically: poultry introduction, movement, and return; multi-species operations; multi-aged operations; inter- and intra-premises movement; and premises unit configurations and isolations.
  • Source poultry from a hatchery that operates under a disease control program or from flocks that have current health records and no evidence of infectious disease. Flock health, vaccination, and veterinary inspection records should accompany all new poultry brought onto the premises.
  • Keep poultry that are introduced or re-introduced into an existing flock separate for a quarantine period before introduction.
  • Make available historical records of placement, introduction, and removal, and outline future scheduling. Records should be kept regardless of the shipment and movement practices on the premises.

Records should be kept for a minimum of one year, unless a longer period is specified by provincial or On-Farm Food Safety (OFFS) program requirements.

2.1.2 Target Outcome - The downtime between flocks is optimized in each barn.

Producer Guidance


Downtime: The time between flocks starting with a barn being emptied of birds and ending with the placement of new birds. It allows for the natural reduction in numbers of disease-causing micro-organisms within the barn. The effective period can be reduced by cleaning at the beginning of the period.

For each barn or production area, optimize downtime as follows:

  • The text box below suggests a minimum downtime after the flock has been removed. It assumes flock removal is followed by dust blow-down and manure cleanout (dry cleaning). The addition of washing and disinfecting to the process may allow for an overall reduced downtime.
  • If a reduced downtime period is unavoidable, add washing and disinfection to the process as soon as possible after shipment to allow for maximum downtime after being thoroughly cleaned and dry.
  • Cold (particularly freezing temperatures), wet, or seasonal conditions can affect the practicality of washing, disinfection, and downtime. In these situations, slight alterations in routine cleaning and disinfection procedures or other options should be considered to meet production needs without compromising biosecurity. (Annex D provides information on cleaning barns in inclement conditions.)
  • Have a downtime of 14 days after the flock has been removed to significantly reduce pathogen load.
  • Dry clean after removing the birds, to reduce pathogen load further.
  • Add washing and disinfection after dry cleaning to minimize pathogen load and, if necessary, allow for some reduction in the overall downtime (i.e. 7 to 10 days total downtime).
  • If manure is not removed, schedule a downtime of at least 21 days. Composting the manure inside the barn or heat-treating by heating the barn (to 105°F/40°C for two days) will further reduce pathogen load and risk to the next flock.
  • Schedule for the entire barn to be empty approximately once a year, with a full cleanout and downtime of 14 days (and if possible, keep the entire premises empty of live poultry for 14 days).

2.1.3 Target Outcome - More stringent additional biosecurity measures are implemented either at the barn or premises level where "all in/all out" scheduling and downtime is not practical.

Producer Guidance

Areas where Target Outcomes 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 will not be met and which present an increased possibility of pathogen introduction:
  • multi-age barns;
  • multi-species operations;
  • returning birds;
  • staggered or phased live poultry introduction or removal into an established flock that includes the following:
    • partial flock shipment over a period greater than 7 days (e.g. heavy tom production [turkeys larger than 13.3 kg]);
    • introduction of spiking males into breeding flocks;
    • movement to another barn for further growth or egg production; and
    • proximity to shipping activities.

      Note: Repeated crew or transportation equipment and/or container contacts increase the risk of pathogen introduction to any remaining poultry; therefore, additional precautions are warranted.

The additional biosecurity measures that may be taken in association with moving or introducing poultry may include, but are not limited to the following:
  • transporting all poultry that are moved from one barn to another or one flock to another in clean crates;
  • ensuring that poultry introductions have equivalent vaccination history (levels) as resident flocks;
  • scheduling all activities within the barns or between barns to start with the youngest poultry and to end with the oldest in any barns that contain multiple ages of poultry (with the exception of any quarantined birds, which would be attended last);
  • increasing the monitoring of the flock after higher risk procedures (e.g. vaccinations, handling, and returning birds); and
  • isolating (a separate RAZ) from resident flocks for 30 days:
    • all new poultry, if not shown to be disease free through participation in a testing or certification program;
    • returning show birds; and
    • all poultry that have been treated with a live vaccine.
The biosecurity measures that require extra attention to ensure adequate biosecurity between subsequent flocks may include, but are not limited to the following:
  • cleaning or disinfection procedures for personnel and equipment;
  • manure movement, handling, storage, and spreading;
  • completing all necessary repairs to the barn structure and equipment;
  • cleaning floor of transition area, or cleaning barn anteroom, if applicable;
  • removing dust and other debris from the barn exterior;
  • pest control procedures;
  • cleaning and disinfecting the barn after any disease outbreak prior to repopulation; and
  • review of flock health, vaccination, and treatment programs with your veterinarian.

Note: Biosecurity measures may be applied to the premises level when there is more than one barn and when each barn is at a different stage of production.

The measures that should be taken to clearly separate each barn into separate isolation units include, but are not limited to the following:
  • applying biosecurity measures between barns to enable barn segregation;
  • regulating the flow of both pedestrian and vehicular traffic (in direction and/or timing) to provide the best order of operation to reduce possible cross-contamination and proximity to live poultry;
  • paying particular attention to manure and mortality handling and route of travel to avoid cross-contamination to other barns still in production; and
  • limiting the movement of equipment between barns, and cleaning and disinfecting all equipment that is moving between barns.

2.2 Ongoing Monitoring of Health Status and Response

2.2.1 Target Outcome - Individuals who monitor poultry are knowledgeable and experienced in monitoring flock health, the recognition of disease conditions, and timely response protocols.

Producer Guidance

  • People who work on the premises should be sufficiently trained and experienced to recognize sick and under performing birds.
  • People who work on the premises should be suitably trained and briefed to take necessary actions in cases where disease is suspected.
  • Training people in the basics of good flock management practices will assist in their recognizing conditions that can predispose or contribute to flock illness. (See Annex D.)
The options for improving skills are as follows:
  • attending seminars and/or workshops organized by government, veterinarians, or the poultry industry;
  • descriptions and/or photographs of typical symptoms placed in anterooms, restrooms, etc.; and
  • supervision by more experienced personnel.

Note: Target Outcome 3.1.1 outlines further guidance on training.

2.2.2 Target Outcome - Daily procedures for observation, and culling if necessary, are followed.

Producer Guidance

  • Conduct a walk-through of the barn and/or range area at least once daily, taking note of poultry behaviour and attitude, and the presence of culls or sick birds as follows:
    • In barns, walk along both sides and down the centre, ensuring that you look in corners, nest boxes, and covered areas.
    • In range areas, walking in an "S" or "X" shaped pattern can ensure good coverage of the flock.
      Note: It is highly recommended that this be done two or more times daily.
  • Keep still at various points in the barn to allow the flock to settle, easing the observation of sick birds or unusual behaviour. This will also allow the observer to hear unusual sounds made by poultry with breathing difficulties.
  • Ensure that lighting in the barn is adequate to allow all of the flock to be observed clearly.

Flock monitoring should be responsive to increased risk levels, and occur as follows:

  • during and after introduction of new stock;
  • following high-risk activities (e.g. visit from vaccination crew);
  • during seasonal or location risk; or
  • during a local outbreak, etc.

2.2.3 Target Outcome - A daily mortality log is maintained for each flock.

Producer Guidance

  • Mortalities should be collected daily and the number recorded.
  • As a minimum, mortality records should include the total number of dead birds found each day and should include birds that have been culled due to sickness symptoms.

It is recommended that mortality records are maintained as part of a more comprehensive flock health management record, elements of which include but are not limited to the following:

  • daily observations of flock condition;
  • daily morbidity and mortality counts;
  • lists of all vaccines and medications given at the hatchery and the farm;
  • lists of all diseases and syndromes that were diagnosed, medicated, or not;
  • input and deliveries, including feed, suppliers, and chicks;
  • output records (e.g. egg production);
  • flock movements;
  • feed and water consumption rates; and
  • end of flock data.

2.2.4 Target Outcome - Unusual morbidity or mortality triggers contact with a veterinarian and disease diagnosis action. Suspicion of diseases that are contagious, of economic importance, or reportable triggers a "disease response plan" that provides guidance to individuals on the appropriate procedures to follow.

Producer Guidance

  • Cull and remove from the flock those birds that are showing symptoms of sickness.
  • Review feed and water consumption and, if necessary, collect feed and water samples.
  • Initiate a call to a veterinarian for any evidence of disease symptoms, sudden rises in mortalities and/or sick birds, or unacceptable drops in feed and/or water consumption or egg production.

A veterinarian should be consulted if any of the following clinical signs are observed:

  • loss of appetite;
  • decreased egg production, and/or soft or misshapen eggs;
  • lack of energy (depressed behaviour);
  • diarrhea;
  • coughing or sneezing (respiratory distress);
  • swelling of tissues around eyes and neck;
  • purple wattles and combs;
  • abnormal neurological behaviour (muscular tremors, depression, drooping wings, twisting of heads and necks, lack of coordination, complete paralysis, etc.); or
  • elevated mortalities.

All farms should:

  • use the services of a veterinarian trained in poultry disease diagnosis;
  • use the services of a veterinarian who has relevant post-graduate training and who demonstrates a current knowledge and understanding of poultry disease; or
  • have access to technical services that are supported by veterinary expertise.

Records should be maintained when the veterinarian provides advice or recommendations on the health and welfare of the birds on the farm.

For example:
  • The contact name and number of the veterinarian or veterinary clinic is available.
  • The visitor log shows records of veterinary visits.
  • The flock sheet, feed, and production records show any medications prescribed to birds.
  • Diagnosed infectious or production-related diseases, copies of diagnostic reports, and prescriptions are kept on file, etc.

Disease response plan

  • The owner and/or manager should be aware of his or her role in the Provincial Emergency Response Plan. This information may be obtained by contacting your veterinarian or a provincial board office (for supply-managed producers), or by attending an information session on this topic.
  • If there is strong evidence of a highly infectious disease, producers should contact their veterinarian. Supply-managed producers should also contact their Provincial Board Office and follow any guidance provided.
  • If a contagious disease of economic importance is suspected, enhanced biosecurity protocols should be initiated, and preparations for self-quarantine started. (See Annex C.)
An example of a disease diagnosis action plan:

Suspicious clinical signs or an unacceptable increase in unexplained mortalities is/are detected.
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There is a self-imposed barn or premises isolation or containment (Annex C).
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Access to the premises is restricted.
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A veterinarian is called.
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A contagious disease of economic importance is suspected.
(If a reportable disease is suspected, the veterinarian must notify the Canadian Food Inspection Agency [CFIA]).
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Appropriate samples are collected for lab analysis and confirmation.
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Self-declaration and notification of appropriate officials occur.
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The current visitor log is reviewed for trace-back purposes.

Upon the suspicion of disease of economic importance, a self-quarantine or isolation protocol (Annex C) may include, but is not limited to the following:
  • implementing enhanced biosecurity measures between barns and limiting access to the premises (particularly the CAZ);
  • limiting movement between barns and off the premises;
  • contacting a veterinarian and providing birds or samples, as needed, under veterinary consultation and following any veterinary advice;
  • discussing the situation with family members and employees;
  • postponing bird movements, vaccinations, etc.;
  • reviewing flock health and mortality records;
  • reviewing all visitor logs and delivery slips; and
  • informing the necessary farm visitors, such as feed delivery, to schedule the affected farm as the last call of the day.
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