As most of you are aware, Delmarva’s chicken industry is preparing for the likely introduction of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus from migratory waterfowl as they migrate through our region to their wintering sites this autumn. WE SEEK YOUR HELP TO KEEP THE VIRUS OUT OF THE NEARLY 4,600 DELMARVA CHICKEN HOUSES.
There have been countless planning meetings, conference calls, webinars, practice exercises, educational meetings, and much more to prevent introduction of the virus into chicken houses and to respond if the virus is found. One such effort is a university-sponsored chicken grower/farmer training workshop “Keeping Poultry Disease off the Farm” the YouTube videos will be posted on the following website http://extension.umd.edu/poultry/avian-influenza-ai-updatesinformation. Please visit this website for up to date information.
As an allied partner in our chicken industry, you rely upon the economic health of our chicken farms. Many of you have employees that routinely visit farms to read meters; replace or repair poultry equipment; perform electrical or plumbing repairs; deliver litter, propane or supplies; contract the reconditioning of litter; or apply ammonia control products, insecticides, or rodenticides.
We recognize that it may not be possible for you to send employees to formal training, so below we outline some practical and necessary suggestions so that you can do your part.
Note that these are typical basic requirements in our industry. Individual chicken companies and grower/farmers might have different or stricter requirements for farm and chicken house visits. Any required biosecurity measures such as using on-farm disinfectant foot pans should be followed. When possible, check with the grower/farmer before making a farm visit. These precautions could be the difference between our chicken houses being virus free or dealing with an industry facing unprecedented avian influenza devastation.
General Visitation : entering chicken houses when birds are present (Most risky)
• Use common sense. When in doubt, stay out of the farm until the farmer/grower gives you permission to proceed with your visit.
• After checking with the grower/farmer, visit flocks from youngest to oldest if possible.
• Ask what the current mortality rate is. If mortality is greater than 3 birds per 1000, do not visit another farm without first washing your vehicle and changing your clothes.
• Make an effort to contact the grower/farmer at least 20-30 minutes before your arrival.
• Sign a visitor log upon your arrival.
• Park vehicle away from exhaust fans in well grassed or graveled areas. Vehicle doors and windows should be kept closed to prevent the introduction of flies into vehicle; flies that might be carrying virus. Walk into the production site in disposable footwear than can be left on the farm.
• When entering a chicken house, use just the designated entrances. Use basic personal protective equipment to protect the chickens, not necessarily your personnel. This includes coveralls, hairnet, and disposable foot wear. These materials should be bagged and disposed of on the farm.
• All equipment used in the chicken house should be cleaned and disinfected including cell phones, keys, pen knifes, or lights. Alcohol wipes are very effective and convenient when cleaning these types of items.
• Keep vehicle floor boards clean and frequently spray them with a disinfectant like Lysol. Wash your hands with soap and water after each visit.
General Visitation: entering chicken houses when birds are not present
• If no other farms are to be visited that day, disposable footwear is the minimal personal protective equipment. Leave the disposal footwear on the farm as close to your vehicle as possible.
• Park as far away from the chicken houses as possible.
General Visitation when not entering chicken houses
• Wear disposable footwear and leave them on the farm after your visit.