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Biosecurity for Commercial Poultry Operators

The U.S. poultry industry is one of the largest in the world and an important sector of our agricultural economy. Defending our nation’s flocks from infectious diseases is a top priority and responsibility for all owners and growers.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is committed to helping all participants in the poultry industry establish and follow biosecurity practices to protect their flocks. Biosecurity, which refers to all the operating and physical practices that can be used to prevent pathogens from coming in contact with your birds and property, is one of the best ways to protect against the spread of highly contagious diseases such as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and virulent Newcastle Disease (vND).

Avian influenza is among the most serious threats to the U.S. poultry industry. The outbreak in 2014-15 affected more than 200 commercial and backyard flocks across the country. Direct losses totaled nearly $1.6 billion, not including costs for clean-up, re-stocking, and lost future production. Limited supply also pushed up prices for eggs and turkey meat.

National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP)  14 Principles

APHIS administers the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) with official state agencies. Established in the 1930s, the NPIP is a cooperative industry, state, and federal program through which new diagnostic technology can be effectively applied to the improvement of poultry and poultry products throughout the country.

Working with veterinarians, scientists, industry partners, and state agencies, APHIS developed a set of 14 biosecurity principles for all commercial poultry owners, growers, and staff to follow.  

1. Biosecurity responsibility
2. Training
3. Line of separation
4. Perimeter buffer area
5. Personnel
6. Pest control
7. Equipment and vehicles

8. Mortality disposal
9. Manure and litter
10. Replacement birds
11.Water
12. Feed and bedding
13. Reporting mortality
14. Auditing

Poultry is central to the nation’s food supply and economy. Working together, we can defend our flocks from the financial impact and the public and individual hardships associated with disease outbreak.

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Help Defend the Flock

Defend the Flock supports poultry growers large and small. The program includes checklists and resource materials, digital tools for up-to-the-minute news and information, webinars and other educational programs. All materials are available at the Defend the Flock Resource Center. We encourage you to use these resources for your own business and to educate others about what good biosecurity looks like. The Defend the Flock program is intended to supplement not replace company directives.

APHIS encourages growers of all sizes to be vigilant about using the biosecurity practices recommended in the Defend the Flock public education program to protect the nation’s poultry from infectious diseases like HPAI. Defend the Flock incorporates knowledge, insights, and experience from USDA, veterinarians, professional owners and growers like you, scientists, and other experts.  Biosecurity is a team effort. We have to work together and use the best information to defend our flocks.


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