In fact as much as possible, farm visitors should be kept away from the farm so as to prevent the spread of diseases. If visitors must come to the farm at all, then provisions must be made for proper disinfection before they are allowed into the farm.
Some operations, such as large poultry and swine farms, have well-developed plans for biosecurity and control of the risk that people present.
Now let us classify the visitors according to the level of risks they pose on your poultry farm below:
Low-Risk Farm Visitors
Farm visitors from urban areas, or others who have no livestock contact, present very little risk of introducing disease to the farm. Some precautions might include:
- Ask visitors to wear freshly laundered outerwear and clean footwear. You should provide them with disposable plastic boots (or clean rubber boots that can be disinfected) and coveralls as an added precaution. This provides your herd additional protection, but also helps prevent visitors from contaminating their clothing with germs from your farm.
- Do not rely too heavily on disinfectant-filled boot baths. Research has shown them to be unreliable methods of routine disinfection unless boots are thoroughly scrubbed before immersion and adequate contact time in the disinfectant is allowed usually at least 5 minutes.
- Do not allow visitors to enter pens, walk through feed alleys or contact animals if possible.
- Do not allow visitors to bring food articles with them on the farm.
- When visitors leave, provide a plastic bag for disposable boots or trash, and ask that they wash their hands (and boots, if worn) before leaving the facility. Identify a place on the farm to wash hands and footwear (have available water, disinfectant, at least a brush, and disposable paper towel).
- According to the Center for Disease Control, the following is recommended: wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute. However, when soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used.
Moderate-Risk Farm Visitors
People who routinely visit farms, but who have little or no contact with animals, present only a moderate risk of introducing disease. Salesmen, feed and fuel delivery personnel, and mechanics are examples of this group. They should be expected to observe the same precautions as stated earlier and in addition:
- They should wear clean coveralls and boots (disposable plastic or clean, disinfected reusable boots) if there is any contact with feed, animals, soil or manure.
- Any sampling equipment should be cleaned and disinfected between uses.
- Dirty boots should be cleaned and disinfected, and coveralls should be removed and placed in a clean plastic bag or container before re-entering the vehicle.
High-Risk Farm Visitors
High-risk visitors to the farm include inseminators, processing crews, veterinarians, livestock haulers and livestock-owning neighbors. These people typically have close contact with animals and their bodily discharges. In addition to the earlier precautions, other recommendations might include:
- Vehicles should be clean and free of visible manure on the tires and wheel wells. In an emergency disease situation, such as the presence of FMD in the United States, restrictions to access to the farm should be in place, and disinfection of vehicles should be considered. If an outbreak occurs in Ohio, these restrictions will be mandated. Vehicle interiors should be clean and easily cleanable. Livestock trucks and trailers should be clean, and preferably disinfected, before arrival on the farm.
- Visitors should arrive with clean clothing, boots and equipment at every farm visit. Equipment and instruments that have direct animal contact (dehorners, castration equipment, halters, etc.) should be cleaned and disinfected (or sterilized) after use and maintained in such a way that they do not become re-contaminated.
- Disposable sleeves and gloves and other disposable, or disinfectable, clothing should be worn whenever there is direct contact with bodily discharges or animal tissues.
- Before leaving the farm, dirty equipment and footwear must be cleaned, washed and disinfected with an appropriate disinfectant. Soiled coveralls should be removed before re-entering the vehicle. Potentially contaminated hands and forearms should be washed with soap and water or a suitable cleanser.
- Farm employees who have livestock at their own home should be required to report to work personally clean and in clean clothes that have not been exposed to their livestock. They could provide their own clean coveralls and disinfected boots, or it may be easier to supply employees with outerwear and boots that are left at the farm when the employee returns home.
What About My Neighbors Who Drop By or Come to Help?
Most of us don’t want to offend a neighbor or a friend. Consider having a few extra pairs of coveralls and boots to loan them while they are there. If you explain to them that this is a measure to protect the health of their herd or flock as well as your own, they are not likely to take offense.