Canadian Poultry Magazine

Importance of a Biosecurity Plan

By Danielle Julien Biosecurity Program Specialist and Sarah Thomson Education Programs Manager   

Features Barn Management Production Biosecurity Poultry Research

PIC Update: April 2011

After they’ve been contaminated with pathogens (bacteria, viruses, etc.), poultry facilities are extremely difficult and expensive to clean, sanitize and disinfect.1 Demonstrating the importance of having a biosecurity plan in place to prevent pathogens from entering poultry facilities was the focus of a workshop held by the PIC for producers. Using GlogermTM, a chemical that is luminescent under UV light, participants were shown how improper washing of boots and hands can provide an opportunity for diseases to get into poultry facilities from outside sources.


Wearing designated boots in the barn is by no means a new concept. Pictures 1 and 2 show that bacteria and viruses can get tracked into your facility without you knowing it if a proper biosecurity program is not in place. Effective cleaning and disinfection of designated barn boots or wearing disposable boot covers is just as important in ensuring disease stays out of your barn.


Foot baths have historically been used to keep barn boots clean; however, maintenance of these on most facilities is poor, and frequently they are overly contaminated with organic matter. Picture 3 shows what a foot bath can look like after a single use! People commonly avoid stepping into foot baths or simply step through the bath without stopping to clean their boots. Improper boot cleaning methods waste time and money, and may place the flock at risk of pathogen spread.2


  • Ensure that your barn is equipped with boot covers that allow for easy disinfection and don’t collect organic debris.3 Pictures 4 and 5 show less residue is left on cleaned boot covers versus rubber boots
  • Remove built up shavings, manure or dirt from your boots as soon as possible, focusing on the boot treads and crevices. Use a dedicated brush for boot cleaning.
  • Keep disinfectant, wash pails and a plastic/non-porous boot brush specifically for scrubbing boots readily available.3
  • Step into a disinfectant foot bath and scrub boots clean; research has found that bacteria counts were significantly less when boots were scrubbed for 30 seconds in a bath compared to not using a bath or standing in a bath that had been used 10 times.2
  • Clean scrub brushes and pails of water. Once scrubbed, spray with disinfectant or sanitizer soap.3

Among the various hand-cleaning products available (soaps, scrubs, antibacterial formulas, and alcohol hand rubs), alcohol-based products have the most rapid bactericidal action (tested without organic material present on hands).4 Studies have shown that increased hand hygiene due to the presence of alcohol-based products can be attributed to the availability of product dispensers and the minimal time required to use them.4 Studies have also shown that the use of alcohol products was overall less costly than traditional hand washing because of the longer time required for hand washing as well as the added costs of paper towels and water.4

Alcohol-based sanitizer – Application time: 20 – 30 seconds

  1. Apply a palmful of alcohol-based hand-rub and cover all surfaces of the hands.
  2. Rub hands until dry.

Soap and water wash – Application time: 40 – 60 seconds

  1. Wet hands with water and apply enough product to cover all surfaces.
  2. Rinse hands with water and dry thoroughly with a single-use towel. Use clean, running water whenever  possible. Avoid using hot water, as repeated exposure  to hot water may increase the risk of dermatitis.
  3. Dry hands thoroughly using a method that does not recontaminate hands. Make sure towels are not used multiple times or by multiple people.
  4. Liquid, bar, leaf or powdered forms of soap are acceptable. When bar soap is used, use small bars of soap in racks that allow the bars to dry in between uses.


  1. Poultry Facility Biosecurity, John B. Carrey.
  2. Evaluating the efficacy of boot baths in biosecurity protocols, Sandra F. Amass, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ABVP et al.,
  3. Ontario Veterinary Biosecurity Initiative Protocol OnFarm Veterinary Biosecurity, Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA),
  4. National Institute of Health “Effect of Guideline Implementation on Costs of Hand Hygiene.” Patricia W. Stone, PhD, RN, Associate Professor, Sumya Hasan, Student Intern, Dave Quiros, MD, Project Director, and Elaine L. Larson, PhD, RN,Professor.

The information presented here is also available in two factsheets, “Bootwashing” and “Handwashing”.  You can obtain these factsheets by visiting or by telephoning (519) 837-0284.

PIC’s Picks
By Tim Nelson, Executive Director

I’ve been fortunate to attend a few conferences recently, which have been interesting but at the same time a bit disturbing.

Many of the talks and presentations at these conferences have reflected on the fact that there are now so many external influences impacting our industry that it’s hard to know where to start to address them. The big ones are environmental management, animal welfare, food safety, worker safety and biosecurity.

Some members of the general public have recently started to take an interest in these elements of our farming practice. For the majority of producers, this interest in a few elements of our operations is creating a “skewed” picture of our operations, which is very frustrating because it forces us to wonder whether we are doing the right thing or not. When we hear at conferences that these pressures are being brought to bear and quite vitriolic attacks on the way we farm it’s no wonder farmers become concerned about the future. There are very few farmers who need to worry unduly about these things. Good farmers farm sustainably and safely, producing a wholesome product with no negative environmental impacts. There are some emerging threats that need a scientific investigative response through research and there are some that can be mitigated by simply adhering to what we know of as best practice – particularly when it comes to biosecurity.

As a result, the theme for this year’s PIC Research Day is “Sustainability: Poultry and People, Growing Together.”

It will feature great speakers who will showcase the work they and others are doing to ensure we can live with our neighbours long into the future – with more understanding of why we farm the way we do and less antagonism brought about by ignorance.

Research Day is on May 10 at the Victoria East Golf Club, starting at noon. Contact PIC for more details on our Research Day, as well as for details about the remaining Growing Forward biosecurity workshops. These workshops have been really well attended, with producers wanting to hear more about this important management issue, as well as qualifying for “cost share” funding that will allow them to undertake some biosecurity initiatives on their farm(s).

Finally, the other really terrific thing I can report is the huge upturn in registrations for and attendance at the producer updates. Getting out into the regions discovering what you want and delivering it has proven very successful. We thank all those who have participated in the regional development meetings. See you at the London Poultry Show on April 19 and 20.

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