Navigating Avian Influenza Outbreaks: Effective Risk Management For Poultry Farmers

In August 2023, the South African poultry industry was again jolted by an alert regarding the highly contagious avian influenza outbreak. This development underscored the need for swift and adaptable responses to protect flocks and livelihoods. To save their businesses and avoid further losses, we advise farmers to take immediate measures to contain and mitigate the outbreak’s impact.

If you trained at Buhle, you already know what to do, but a reminder is always useful.

Implement stringent biosecurity measures

Ensure that all who have access to the chicken house use the foot bath, which should always be filled with the correct disinfectant. This is the first line of defence in an avian influenza outbreak. Foot baths are a simple yet effective method for staff and visitors to disinfect their footwear, minimising the likelihood of disease transmission. These measures minimise the risk of disease transmission between houses, farms and regions. Keep a knapsack ready to sanitise all vehicles delivering feed, eggs, or other supplies before entering production premises to reduce the chances of disease spread. The washing of hands after contact with the chickens is as effective.

Controlling human movement

Humans are how the virus spreads. Reduce the number of people having access to the chickens. In addition to the foot bath, have your customers wait at the gate or a distance to the production house and bring the chickens to them. If it will help you, teach children how to enforce biosecurity as they can become great assistants for the family business. Generally, limiting the entry of visitors to production sites helps reduce the risk of introducing pathogens.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Protecting the workforce is paramount during an outbreak. A simple mask, gloves and PPE should be used at all times. If you do not have complete PPE, the uniform of clothing worn in the chicken house should be hung in the sun between uses. Avoid using the same overall for the chickens and other production units. This practice prevents cross-contamination and ensures workers are safeguarded while attending to their duties. Those who work with chickens should avoid touching their mouths, nose, or eyes after contact with birds or surfaces that may be contaminated with saliva, mucous, or faeces from chickens.

Disinfection regimen

Disinfect your chicken houses at least twice a week. Move fast and with efficiency to minimise losses. And then remember to keep us with this regimen, disinfecting all surfaces and washing tools and equipment with soap and water, too. Vehicles delivering feed, eggs, and other supplies can inadvertently become disease carriers. Remember to include cars, containers and anything else used to produce and deliver chickens. Continue doing this until the alert is lifted to help break the disease transmission chain within the farm environment.

If you must cull the chickens, thoroughly cleaning the house is mandatory, including the 21-day waiting period before bringing in a new batch of chickens.

Professional Advice

Get your information from a trusted source, such as Buhle, Vets, The Department of Agriculture, SA Poultry Association, etc. As a Buhle Alumni, you may contact to guide you through the necessary processes. You may also contact your assigned Farmer Support Officer; do not delay.

Buhle Farmers’ Academy: Empowering poultry farmers

At the heart of effective risk management lies the knowledge and ability to make informed decisions. Buhle Farmers’ Academy is pivotal in equipping poultry farmers with the expertise to establish and run successful poultry farming operations. Offering a comprehensive Poultry Production course, the academy covers essential aspects of poultry farming, including housing, feeding, disease control, brooding, record-keeping, processing, and marketing of poultry products. Farmers are better prepared to maximise their profits and respond efficiently to disease outbreaks with this knowledge.

Enrol at Buhle Farmers’ Academy today

Risk management is not a mere concept but a practical necessity in poultry production. Avian influenza outbreaks are stark reminders of the importance of swift and adaptable responses to crises. With the knowledge imparted by Buhle Farmers’ Academy, poultry farmers are empowered to navigate challenges, make informed decisions, and implement effective risk management strategies.

The Buhle Farmers’ Academy’s Poultry Production course exemplifies a forward-thinking approach to agricultural education.

Visit our website today for more information, including how to enroll.

Tags: , , ,