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Considering Uncertain Payoffs of Improved Biosecurity

Douglas G. Tiffany
Research Fellow, Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering, 
University of Minnesota

Since the outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in the spring of 2015, strong efforts have been made by U of M and Minnesota Department of Ag staff, and poultry associations to inform poultry producers of operating practices and capital expenditures that should reduce the risk of HPAI in turkeys, layers and broilers. Contractors are offering tighter structures with easier to clean surfaces, advanced air filtration systems in addition to Danish entry systems and vehicle wash pads. There are no guarantees that each of these approaches, alone, will prevent a HPAI infection, but they all should help, but will cost money. However, the reduction in infection rates of flocks due to a particular practice or improvement in facilities is difficult to predict.
Apparently great efforts and expense can be taken to improve biosecurity, but a single breech in the armor of biosecurity can defeat a number of logical improvements in practices and advanced facilities. The uncertainty of cause and effect in biosecurity makes decision-making for producers difficult.

In an effort to assist turkey producers as they consider measures to improve biosecurity for turkeys, I have designed a decision tool to help growers assign costs and benefits of improved practices and tangible improvements and will suggest probabilities of success in preventing HPAI to assign to particular practices and improvements. In some cases there will be collateral improvements in reduced heating bills by replacing older barns with tighter, more efficient designs.

Therefore, I am seeking examples and help from Minnesota and Midwest turkey producers that may have any of the following systems or others, whether operating or planned for their farms:
  • · advanced housing for brooding and growing with smooth walls and ceilings,
  • · concrete extended up the walls, 
  • · Danish entry systems, 
  • · vehicle wash pads, 
  • · enhanced ventilation systems with filters to remove dust that may contain viruses. 
The examples, which can remain anonymous, will be used to illustrate how to use and interpret the web-based decision tool. Please give me a call (612) 625-6715 or contact me by email at if you have any questions. Thanks in advance, if you have an example to share.

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