This section presents new ideas and technologies for potential use in biosecurity programs. Although the basic biosecurity principles are straightforward and have not changed much over the years, we are exploring some new approaches and technologies that may enhance those practices and improve biosecurity programs.
Recent developments for enhanced biosecurity
We are exploring how small unmanned aircraft—more commonly called drones—can be used to enhance biosecurity programs on poultry farms. Drones allow us to capture a more comprehensive view of a farm/operation. By flying at different elevations, we're able to see whether wild birds are nesting on rooftops or in nooks of feed bins that may not be visible from the ground; we can see if there's wildlife movement in the area that could pose a risk; and we can establish a video record of a point in time that will allow us to see whether changes occur over time. We're also experimenting with thermal imaging technology that may help us identify potential areas of concern.
In-house biosecure composting
Recognizing that the biosecure disposal of routine mortalities in poultry flocks is problematic for poultry producers, our goal is to develop a biosecure, convenient, efficient, cost-effective method that is eco-friendly and effective. We are exploring in-house composting to handle mortalities that occur in a brooding facility or a combination brooding/grow-out facility.
The advantages of the in-house composting system we’re exploring include confining mortalities within the facility, which is a much more biosecure method than composting outside the barn where there’s the potential to draw insects, rodents and other animals that may enable the spread of disease from barn to barn and farm to farm. In biosecurity terms this is keeping within the lines of separation. Additionally, in-house composting provides near perfect conditions for rapid, thorough, effective composting. The environment within the building is warm and consistent, water is available and can be easily added for optimal amounts, and the carbon and nitrogen sources are readily available from the manure-containing litter.
However, there is limited space in a poultry barn and live birds cannot be allowed to have access to dead birds; therefore, a contained, closed, space efficient, economical compost system for poultry mortalities needs to be developed. Such a system would be a major advantage over what is typically available and/or being used currently by poultry producers.