Adapting on the fly
By Sean RolloFeatures Farmer Health/Safety
Safety and disinfection tips for poultry farms during a pandemic.
For poultry farms, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a rapidly changing industry landscape. From delays in shipping and payments to limited orders from processors due to lowered production capacity, there have been a myriad of challenges to confront and address. Not least of these is the spread of the disease itself.
While research has shown that chickens are not likely to contract the disease, the risk of spreading it amongst farm employees and customers remains an issue. COVID-19 is spread primarily by respiratory droplets, but may also live on shared surfaces and objects like door handles and mechanical equipment. This means in a high-contact, indoor environment like a barn, the possibility of spreading COVID-19 is ever-present. Lowering the risk of transmission in these areas is crucial to safe and effective poultry farming operations.
Some farms even sell products directly to consumers, making the need for proper disinfection practices even greater. Although food products and packaging aren’t likely to spread COVID-19, in-person interactions with customers still carry that risk and should be treated with caution while observing stringent guidelines. More traffic on a farm’s grounds creates a greater chance of disease transmission, which means farms interacting directly with customers need to carefully consider how they’re mitigating that risk.
No matter how they’re conducting operations, every poultry farm should have procedures and plans in place to ensure a healthy, clean environment. Producers should prioritize thinking through what needs to be done, communicating with staff and implementing new practices in the wake of the current public health crisis.
Just one sickened employee or customer could have significant ramifications for a farm’s operations, not to mention its reputation and bottom line.
Lowering disease risk
Here are a few basic tips for lowering the risk of disease transmission during poultry farming operations:
Regularly clean and disinfect any items or surfaces frequently touched by staff or customers. There are likely more of these than expected, so be sure to think about every possible affected touch point.
Be sure the one you are using is on Health Canada’s List of disinfectants with evidence for use against COVID-19.
Disinfectants all have different contact time requirements to effectively kill viruses; read the virus table on the label to ensure you leave the disinfectant on the surface long enough to kill the virus.
Ensure staff are given permission to stay home if they feel sick or know they are sick. If any poultry handler is sick or unwell, or has tested positive for COVID-19, they should not be at work.
Create floor markings to indicate proper social distancing guidance of two metres and keep staff and customers appropriately distanced. In situations where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, the Canadian government recommends wearing a non-medical mask or face covering made with at least two layers of tightly woven fabric, constructed to completely cover the nose and mouth without gaping, and secured to the head by ties or ear loops. However, it is best for masks or face coverings to be worn at all times outside of your home when not eating or drinking.
- Offer added handwashing stations or facilities if possible. These should include soap, water and hand sanitizer. In addition, advise all employees not to touch their faces.
- Accept contactless payments from customers if applicable.
- Shift in-person transactions to delivery services, and take all orders online or by phone.
- Conduct virtual meetings with all business contacts if the option is available.
Following these guidelines is a great start to maintaining a safe poultry farming environment for staff, customers and animals alike. However, farm owners and managers may be concerned about the ongoing risk of COVID-19 transmission or have worries that their existing operations have already been exposed. In this case, there is another option that involves more extensive cleaning, helping to deliver greater peace of mind and reassurance that the farm’s operations are safe: A professional disinfection service.
Working with a professional is one of the best ways to bolster one’s safety procedures. This means a licensed provider will visit the farm and carefully treat the facilities, including all high-touch areas, to eliminate harmful pathogens.
When evaluating products and services that are right for your business, look for the following features:
- It is Health Canada-registered and labeled for use against a wide variety of pathogens; included on Health Canada’s list of products that meet their criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
- The label assures 99.999 per cent disinfection of hard, non-porous surfaces.
- It can be applied to soft surfaces as well (many disinfectants do not allow this).
- It’s eco-friendly with low toxicity.
- It’s afe for food contact surfaces.
- It allows spaces to dry and become usable again quickly.
One benefit of a professional service is that it follows a standard process. For example, trained technicians will arrive at the farm, carefully wiping down all high-touch surfaces in a given location, apply a misting application using specialized equipment and let it dry undisturbed for 10 to 15 minutes. Once it’s dried, the label assures complete disinfection of all bacteria and viruses on hard, non-porous surfaces.
Of course, there’s no silver bullet for stopping the spread of COVID-19 at this point, but a powerful disinfection service – coupled with social distancing, proper hygiene and the appropriate use of face coverings – can help reduce the risks and restore a safer and healthier environment to keep poultry farms in business.
These are quite obviously unprecedented times. Farms continue to adapt and makes the changes necessary to keep up with shifting demand amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic. That’s why it’s especially crucial to take care of staff, customers and animals — to preserve everyone’s well-being while maintaining a functioning and reputable business. Farm owners and managers should consider utilizing the tips outlined above to promote peace of mind and keep operations running smoothly.
Sean Rollo is the director of both technical services and business development for Orkin Canada focusing on new innovations to the pest control industry. For more information, visit orkincanada.com.
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