The goal is for the Big Red Biosecurity Program for poultry to implement a poultry focused biosecurity education and training program to increase the understanding and use of biosecurity practices for the purpose of protecting poultry populations in Nebraska (and beyond) from a catastrophic poultry disease such as avian influenza. Additionally, we will describe using new and novel technologies for enhanced biosecurity.

Although not large compared to other states, Nebraska has a robust poultry industry primarily consisting of broiler chickens, layers and turkeys. Recent large-scale investments in the state by Hendrix-ISA to expand their egg layer operation, Hybrid Turkey to expand their turkey operation and by Lincoln Premium Poultry/Costco Wholesale Corp. to grow broilers is driving significant and rapid growth in the poultry sector. While these large investments will account for most of the growth in poultry production, smaller producers – diversified family farms, backyard flocks, gamebird operators and growers of project or show birds – located across the state will continue to produce birds.

As poultry production expands, so does the need to safeguard the state’s, and by extension the nation’s, poultry from catastrophic poultry diseases. In 2015 the avian influenza outbreak that devastated the north central U.S. extended into Nebraska. This outbreak prompted the poultry industry to take steps to enhance and implement biosecurity programs and practices. It was realized after the more recent 2020-21 avian influenza outbreak that biosecurity is of utmost importance in combating outbreaks. Currently, avian influenza has been reported on several continents, and there is always the concern about the potential for it to again spread to the U.S. Another risk factor is that Nebraska is centrally located and is in the flight path of migratory waterfowl.

Incorporating biosecurity best practices is an essential element in preventing and controlling poultry diseases that impair bird health and profitability, but too often biosecurity measures are not put in place until after there has been an incident. Greater education and assistance will increase the adoption of biosecurity practices and thus decrease the risks of disease incidents. The Big Red Biosecurity Program for Poultry will provide the needed information.