Thursday, January 08, 2015

Poultry health and food safety need careful management

Issues surrounding food safety on egg farms are often ignored. It seems that the only time there is any focus is after an outbreak of disease or food poisoning traced back to eggs.

There are clearly many factors involved in maintaining poultry health and producing great, clean food. Cleanliness is a great starting point – clean sheds, clean nest boxes, wholesome feed and and clean water. Adequate cleaning procedures are vital as is controlling dust, vermin and ensuring good ventilation in sheds. Stocking densities are a substantial issue as each hen produces about half a cubic metre of manure a year, faecal contamination is likely to be a major salmonella risk factor in high density sheds. Do the maths, if you have 6000 hens in a shed, that's 1500 cubic metres of manure in the shed each year assuming the hens are only in the shed for 12 hours a day. The build up of manure provides a top host site for all sorts of nasties which can affect the health of hens and cause gastro problems with contaminated eggs. With 1000 hens per shed, that's still 250 cubic metres of manure a year. That's one of the many reasons we run flock sizes of 200 -300. Poultry health and egg are under greater threat as flock numbers rise. Large flock sizes and significant numbers of laying hens in sheds, often means that there is likely to be a high level of floor eggs - which increases the probability of contamination. That appears to have been the cause of the most recent salmonella event in Victoria.
But it's not just the threat of salmonella contamination – the only outbreaks of avian influenza in Australia have been on intensive poultry facilities.
The establishment of intensive production systems masquerading as 'free range' presents a great risk factor for the industry. Flock size and shed densities are vital issues.

Here's some detailed info:

1 comment:

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