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CPRC Update: Assessing biosecurity and sanitation practices

Assessing biosecurity and sanitation practices.

May 14, 2019
By The Canadian Poultry Research Council


Two Canadian research teams, one from the University of Guelph (U of G) and the other from the Universtiy of Montreal (U of M) conducted studies to evaluate the value of recommended biosecurity measures and sanitation procedures in the poultry industry.

The approach
Biosecurity measures are designed to protect populations from transmissible infectious agents and to reduce the consequences of an infection. Research has regularly highlighted the importance of barn entrances and overall barn sanitation in relation to pathogen spread, reaffirming the importance of both as key elements of biosecurity measures.

To be effective, biosecurity measures must be applied consistently by all; however, application of biosecurity protocols are often sporadic and variable. Previous studies have proposed that lack of knowledge or understanding of biosecurity principles helps explain low or variable compliance with biosecurity standards.

However, the scientific literature is limited in applied studies using pathogens to demonstrate their relative impact.

Jean-Pierre Vaillancourt from U of M, Michele Guerin from U of G and their research teams decided to evaluate the value of recommended biosecurity measures and sanitation procedures in the poultry industry.

The studies
Researchers created a typical poultry barn entrance in a laboratory facility in Quebec to include clean and dirty areas. The dirty area contained sterilized material retrieved from the entrance of an actual farm contaminated with a genetically modified bacterial strain or viral surrogate that allowed their presence to be monitored by measuring bioluminescence.

The team then determined the degree of floor contamination occurring from the three most frequent biosecurity breaches. The security breaches included: Not changing boots between contaminated and clean areas; donning farm boots while in the clean area; and donning farm boots while in the contaminated area. The researchers assessed the dilution effect on pathogen load when walking with contaminated boots.

The second study was conducted under field conditions in Ontario. Thirty-six commercial broiler barns were cleaned following flock removal using one of three sanitation procedures. The procedures included: Dry cleaning (blow down); wet cleaning (with detergent after dry cleaning); and disinfecting with disinfectant after wet cleaning.

Bacterial loads on cement and wood floors were evaluated at three time points: Before dry cleaning (baseline); two days after sanitation; and six days after sanitation.

Findings and recommendations
Results of the biosecurity breaches at barn entrances demonstrate that it is possible to prevent cross-contamination of areas by effectively changing boots. Stepping back into the contaminated area does significantly contaminate both boots and the floor in the clean zone. Not changing boots at all between areas significantly increases the floor contamination level of the clean area.

Additionally, researchers observed no dilution effect of the contamination on either boots or the floor after walking 10 steps. Outcomes of this study demonstrate that barn entrance designs should focus on creating conditions to facilitate changing boots between areas to ensure optimal biosecurity compliance.

Results of the sanitation procedures study show that current sanitation procedures performed on commercial farms reduce floor contamination. The impact of the three different sanitation procedures differs between the studied pathogens.

Based on these findings, researchers recommend that producers use the cleaning procedure best suited for the pathogen outbreak they are having in their barn (disinfection for E. coli, and dry cleaning for Salmonella spp. and Clostridium perfringens). Allowing sufficient time post-sanitation is of great benefit to pathogen reduction, and concrete rather than wooden floors are recommended for new barns.

Next steps
Researchers identified key elements that will be useful for biosecurity training purposes and for decision making regarding on-farm sanitation procedures to allow producers to improve practices. The research team is currently focused on such activities.

This research is funded by CPRC/AAFC (under the Poultry Science Cluster Program), OMAFRA, Poultry Industry Council and University of Montreal.

The Canadian Poultry Research Council, its board of directors and member organizations support and enhance Canada’s poultry sector through research and related activities. For more details, visit

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