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Extension > Agriculture > Poultry production and health > Biosecurity > Poultry biosecurity hazards: Identify movement and flows on animal farms

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Poultry biosecurity hazards: identify movement and flows on animal farms

exterior of poultry barn

Kevin Janni

Biosecurity protocols are used to prevent the introduction of infectious disease organisms to animals on a farm and to control a diseases’ spread within and between barns and farms. Flow analysis on animal farms is a systematic way to plan the movement of people, animals, feed, supplies, materials, equipment and ventilating air into, through and from animal facilities. Flow analysis can also be used to assess and maintain biosecurity needed and efficiently and safely execute the operation’s management and operational plans.

Step 1: Define and draw system boundaries and line(s) of separation.

map showing boundaries of farm

Example of system boundaries and lines of separation using an aerial photograph.

System boundaries can define either a farmstead or an individual barn. Line(s) of separation define clean areas versus dirty areas. On most farm sites, both farmstead and individual barn boundaries and lines of separation need to be considered.

Roads, property lines, gates and fences around a farmstead can be used to define a system boundary. A barn’s boundary can be can be defined by the roof, sidewalls, doors, air inlets, air outlets and exhaust fans.

Barn entrances are a key barn boundary element because they are where all people and many supplies cross a line of separation between dirty areas and clean biosecure areas within an entry way. Lines of separation can be defined using a painted line or curb on the floor. Multiple barns connected by enclosed hallways can be used to define the boundary between inside and outside.

Step 2: Identify every flow that crosses the boundary or line of separation.

General farmstead flows can include

  • Employees entering and leaving the farmstead
  • Non-employees such as service providers, veterinarians, package couriers, sales consultants and visitors entering and leaving occasionally
  • Feed and feed trucks
  • Live birds moving in and moving out - trucks, equipment and employees
  • Mortalities leaving barns and the farmstead
  • Eggs leaving a layer operation
  • Bedding supply trucks
  • Supplies and delivery trucks (mail, packages, other)
  • Garbage truck and physical trash
  • Manure handling equipment
  • Manure leaving
  • Fuel trucks
  • Employee work cloths and boots
  • Food and drink for employees

Barn flows can include

  • Airflow in and out
  • Feed flow in
  • Live animals in and out
  • Mortalities out
  • Animal care givers with dirty hands and cloths in and out
  • Service people, consultants and visitors with dirty hands, equipment and clothes
  • Equipment in and out — machinery, tools, etc.
  • Personal items including glasses, jewelry and phone
  • Supplies in — inventory, ordering, delivery, storage, cleanliness
  • Bedding added
  • Used litter and manure removed
  • Water in
  • Trash including used plastic boots, gloves, disposable coveralls, other things
  • Clean boots and coveralls in and dirty boots and coveralls out
  • Used boot dip or dry disinfectant
  • Cleaning supplies in, used dirty supplies leaving and empty containers out
  • Toilet wastes and wash water out
  • Rodents, flies and wild birds
  • Others

Step 3: Describe or track each flow of equipment, people, supplies etc.

Step 4: Assess the biosecurity risk associated with each flow and prioritize the risks to be managed more carefully.

Be sure to assume that the flows are dirty whether incoming or outgoing.

Step 5: Develop and implement protocols to better manage the biosecurity risk associated with each flow.

It is important to make flow management and biosecurity practices easy. If a job is easy to do with the right equipment it is more likely to be done and done well. The concept of system flow analysis sounds easy but to do it well takes a lot of work and a focus on details.

Questions or comments?

For more information:

Kevin Janni, Professor and Extension Engineer, (612) 625-3108 or

Abby Neu, Poultry Extension Educator, (320) 235-7026 x 2019


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