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LRIC Update: Top biosecurity tips from experts

Leading specialists share their top biosecurity tips.

June 4, 2020
By Lilian Schaer, Livestock Research Innovation Corporation


The world was a vastly different place when the Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC) first chose the topic for this update – and it will be different yet again by the time it’s printed and seen by Canadian Poultry readers. In some ways, though, the topic of biosecurity is timelier than ever, as we’re forced to apply more and more of its principles to our own daily lives.

Agriculture, more than most sectors, has been living biosecurity for decades in an effort to keep poultry and livestock healthy and disease-free. For poultry, that includes trade-limiting, reportable infections like avian influenza, but also economically important diseases like infectious laryngotracheitis and others.

To prepare for this article, LRIC asked poultry industry experts for their thoughts on the top things poultry producers should do or know when it comes to biosecurity.


Tom Baker is project manager and incident commander with Ontario’s Feather Board Command Centre (FBCC), which has responsibility for the centralized emergency response capabilities of the chicken, egg, turkey and hatchery sectors in Ontario.

Although informal collaboration on disease response began after the 2003 avian influenza outbreak in British Columbia, FBCC was founded in 2011 with funding support from the federal and provincial governments, Egg Farmers of Ontario, Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Turkey Farmers of Ontario and Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg and Chick Commission.

Baker and the FBCC member organizations encourage all poultry farmers to establish a biosecurity plan – both a basic one and one to follow during heightened alert or outbreak situations – that includes identification and mitigation of all hazards.

Elements of good biosecurity protocols include:

  • Using separate boots, gloves and coveralls for each production area, including each floor in multi-story barns.
  • Ensuring restricted and controlled access areas are clearly identified and respected by all staff, suppliers and service providers, and that restricted areas include a step over bench separating “clean” and “dirty” areas.
  • Washing hands with soap and water, or when hand washing is not practical, using alcohol gel before and after putting on gloves prior to entering each restricted access area.
  • Keeping barn doors locked at all times and implementing a secure barrier to controlled access areas during heightened biosecurity situations.
  • Following deadstock, litter and manure management plans that don’t contaminate feed and water or attract pests.

“It’s important to train all staff so they understand what they need to do and why it’s important, including the principles and necessity of bio-exclusion, bio-management and bio-containment,” Baker says.

Poultry veterinarians Lloyd Weber and Anastasia Novy of Guelph Poultry Veterinary Services urge all poultry producers to pay particular attention to water quality in their barns. A water test is a good place to start.

“All too often we see bacterial infections, wet barns and reduced performance, which are directly linked to contaminated water and high mineral content. Conducting a water analysis and adding the appropriate water treatment can prove to be a significant improvement in the health of flocks,” Weber says.

Controlling insects and rodents is also an important part of biosecurity, as these populations can spread disease. As well, Weber and Novy encourage regular testing for diseases like infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV), infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) and reovirus that suppress bird immune systems.

“These viruses can be devastating to flocks, resulting in secondary infections, mortality, low weights and higher condemnations,” Weber adds. “You don’t know what virus is lingering in the barns if you don’t look.”

Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC) fosters research collaboration and drives innovation in the livestock and poultry industry. Visit or follow @LivestockInnov on Twitter.