Since lockdown on 23rd March 2020, when all farm visits stopped, countryside recreational pressure increased. When lockdown was lifted on 23rd June 2020, farm visits began again, albeit slowly, but several changes were identified by our clients.
Firstly, many more items were delivered to the farm as fewer shopping trips took place. Not only basic food essentials, but all manner of things, including Livetec contingency plan reviews! However, due to Covid 19, revised protocols meant items no longer required a signature, so might be left at points convenient to the courier. Sometimes an item went missing, if left out on view, and the ingenuity of one courier delivering to a local farm resulted in the delivery being “hidden” in the “disinfectant bin”, according to Ian Rickatson, the recipient!
So, what are your arrangements? Do you have a suitable protocol for items delivered to you farm? If not, you may end up disappointed! Remember vehicle C & D and get the driver to sign in so you have a record.
Another observation that may gain momentum is that of windows! Lockdown increased the use of the countryside for recreation, resulting in many more visitors hitherto absent from the countryside. Previously, uninteresting buildings that did not merit investigation, became targets of curiosity with their new windows. Walkers might be tempted to nip over and take a look or, reclaim a loose dog wandering around the poultry biosecure area, as it fails to be recalled.
So, how is your perimeter to the poultry area? If there are any weak points it needs attention now.
We may yet go into another lockdown and then countryside recreation would again increase. Secure your site.
Finally, the age-old problem of vermin, especially mice and rats. The harvest is nearly completed, and readily available food supplies are reduced, so new sources must be found, the vegetation gets topped and growth decreases, so habitats are lost and new shelter sought, and the wet weather has returned with localised flooding causing rodents to move. Maintenance of buildings is vital, especially between flocks when visible signs are more easily spotted, as vermin continue to use their existing routes to feeding grounds, often in the evening. Any holes, gaps, broken vents etc should be repaired and thorough cleaning done before the next flock arrives. Monitoring is necessary so that appropriate vermin control is carried out. Again, keep records.
So, how comprehensive is your vermin control plan? How thoroughly do you maintain and clean between flocks?
The High-Risk Period is upon us, so check the APHA interactive map1 and ensure your biosecurity protocols are followed by everybody, every day. Instruct any new staff, stressing the importance, but do, ACT NOW!!
Sarah Russell Technical Officer 30th October 2020