Reduce the risk of disease on your site through well planned, implemented, and practised biosecurity.

Mycoplasma, Hexamita, and Coccidiosis are the diseases PHS vets see most often on game sites. There are some preventative strategies specific to each disease, but biosecurity is our main strategy for preventing all infectious disease.

Biosecurity has two aims; Prevent disease from entering a site and prevent disease spreading through a site. This can sound impossible when raising birds outdoors, in contact with soil, and occasionally wild birds. However, the more biosecurity you implement and practise, the more you reduce the risk of disease.

Removing disease – Good hygiene practices

Cleaning is important before disinfection as infectious diseases survive for a long time in organic material such as faeces, mud, and dust, which will neutralise your disinfectants. Brushing off the largest parts of organic matter and then cleaning with an appropriate detergent soap solution will remove the majority of infectious material and remove up to 90% of the microbes present.

There are many cleaning and disinfection products available, and it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the correct dilution ratios. A “cheat sheet” with the name of each product you use, and the volumes required to make a solution at the correct concentration will save time and prevent mistakes, especially if you have a large team.

Contact time is also an important manufacturer specification. Detergents may need 20-30 minutes to soak before being cleaned off with clean water to ensure they work effectively. Drying time is required between this and using a disinfectant to ensure the solution used is not diluted by residual water. Finally, disinfectants will need enough time to kill infectious agents.

Weak solutions, inadequate coverage, and trying to work too quickly are all common mistakes which result in ineffective cleaning and disinfection, making the process a waste of time and money.

Keeping clean

Hatchers, sheds, crates, drinkers, and feeders are all items people commonly leave until the next use or next season before cleaning and disinfecting. This gives disease causing organisms time to thrive, making it harder to remove them. Clean and disinfect items after they have been used and, if they are being stored, clean and disinfect them a second time before use to remove any contamination picked up in storage and transport.

Once cleaning has started, the site and pens should be treated as if the birds are present. It is easy to contaminate sheds by not washing boots before walking in, undoing all of your hard work. Control who and what goes onto your site and into your sheds to stop disease entering as well.

Don’t let disease back in

There are many vectors which transport disease. Below are a few examples of risks, and how you can reduce the risk.

Bought in birds – Buy from a reliable source with good biosecurity so you don’t buy in disease. You can also ask a PHS vet to inspect and test birds on the day of arrival.

People – People working on site should be trained in biosecurity to ensure they know how to prevent disease spread. Site-specific boots and clothes should be used, and disinfectant foot dips used before entering each shed and pen. Visit birds youngest to oldest, and sick birds last of all, to reduce the risk of infections spreading. People visiting the site officially, such as delivery drivers, should fill in a visitor book. Please contact PHS for visitor and medicine record sheets. Unofficial visitors, such as footpath users, are more difficult to control, but good signs should limit their access to your site.

Pets and livestock – Dogs are an important part of our lives, but they don’t wash their feet. Keep dogs out of sheds and pens. Many sites use sheep to maintain the grass between pens, but they can spread disease, particularly Salmonella and Pasteurella, between sheds and pens.

Wild birds, rodents, and other wildlife – Pests will quickly bring infections onto a site and spread it. Well maintained sheds, pens, bedding storage and feed stores are necessary. Even the smallest feed spillage can attract wildlife which will return for more, whilst bedding contaminated with wild bird droppings has been identified as a key factor in many avian influenza outbreaks. Baiting and trapping are important for monitoring and controlling your pest population. Cut grass on rearing sites early in the season to remove places for rodents to hide.

Further information

PHS game vets are available across the UK for any veterinary work you require. We provide site visits, health plans, and routine visits which help us understand your business so we can give accurate advice. Please visit our website at www.poultryhealthservices.com for local PHS practice details or email commercial@poultryhealthservices.com

PHS is now supplying biosecurity products, including disinfectants, detergents, water sanitisers, and water acidifiers at competitive prices. We can formulate cleaning and disinfection plans with costings, helping you plan ahead. We are offering free delivery for mixed pallets of disinfectants and detergents direct to farm (minimum order applies). For more information, please contact Paul Mendham (Veterinary Support Officer) on Paul.Mendham@poultryhealthservices.com

Poultry Health Services