Scoring biosecurity in European conventional broiler production

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Abstract

Good biosecurity procedures are crucial for healthy animal production. The aim of this study was to quantify the level of biosecurity on conventional broiler farms in Europe, following a standardized procedure, thereby trying to identify factors that are amenable to improvement. The current study used a risk-based weighted scoring system (biocheck.ugent ®) to assess the level of biosecurity on 399 conventional broiler farms in 5 EU member states. The scoring system consisted of 2 main categories, namely external and internal biosecurity, which had 8 and 3 subcategories, respectively. Biosecurity was quantified by converting the answers to 97 questions into a score from 0 to 100. The minimum score, “0,” represents total absence of any biosecurity measure on the broiler farm, whereas the maximum score, “100,” means full application of all investigated biosecurity measures. A possible correlation between biosecurity and farm characteristics was investigated by multivariate linear regression analysis. The participating broiler farms scored better for internal biosecurity (mean score of 76.6) than for external biosecurity (mean 68.4). There was variation between the mean biosecurity scores for the different member states, ranging from 59.8 to 78.0 for external biosecurity and from 63.0 to 85.6 for internal biosecurity. Within the category of external biosecurity, the subcategory related to “infrastructure and vectors” had the highest mean score (82.4), while the subcategory with the lowest score related to biosecurity procedures for “visitors and staff” (mean 51.5). Within the category of internal biosecurity, the subcategory “disease management” had the highest mean score (65.8). In the multivariate regression model a significant negative correlation was found between internal biosecurity and the number of employees and farm size. These findings indicate that there is a lot of variation for external and internal biosecurity on the participating broiler farms, suggesting that improvements are possible. Since the subcategory “visitors and staff” scored the lowest, better education of broiler farmers and their staff may help to improve overall biosecurity on broiler farms in Europe.

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