Each spring, along with the onset of warmer weather and longer days, comes the arrival of budding trees, nesting birds and buzzing insects. And while we appreciate the change in seasons, each change presents new biosecurity challenges. At Cobb, as part of our ongoing commitment to biosecurity, we host regular training sessions for employees about how to best prevent the introduction and spread of disease or contamination among our flocks at that particular time of year. That’s why we’ve compiled this biosecurity checklist to remind our employees - as well as our distributors and customers - how to keep their flocks safe and disease-free this spring. Avoid Migratory Waterfowl. During spring, migratory waterfowl such as ducks and geese are prevalent across parks, neighborhoods and even golf courses. And while Cobb has established very strict no-contact rules for any non-Cobb birds, accidental exposure does happen. It is absolutely crucial that team members always be aware of your surroundings, no matter where they are. If contact ever does occur, employees are required to report the incident to their supervisor immediately. Employees must shower at home, change footwear and wash their clothing before coming to work. If necessary, they will not be allowed to contact Cobb birds for a full 72 hours to be safe. Be Weary of Supply Stores. Baby chicks are undeniably cute, but they pose a serious biosecurity threat when they’re sold at your local agriculture and supply stores. In many locations, Cobb works with local stores to give us advance notification when they begin to sell baby chicks. We then notify all employees telling them to avoid these locations while chicks are in the store. It’s Nesting Season. Pay particular attention to wild birds, such as swallows and sparrows, nesting around facilities. Our main concern is keeping wild birds out of the chicken houses. And while our facilities are fully screened, we also perform daily checks to make sure there are no nests as well as use products to dissuade future birds from building nests. If a bird ever does make its way inside a house, that flock goes under isolation. If possible, we capture the bird and test it for any diseases. More likely, we are able to remove the bird but it flies away. From there, we will test that flock on a weekly basis for three weeks to monitor for signs of disease. If no signs are apparent, management returns to normal. Rodent control. Spring is also the time that little rodents shake off their hibernation and start looking for food. Did you know, a mouse only needs a hole the size of a pencil to enter a building? We are extremely vigilant about making sure everything is completely sealed, utilizing everything from expanding foam and caulking to steel wool. We place bait stations on the perimeter of farms as a secondary level of protection. We also require a defined amount of clear ground, meaning no vegetation, around the facility because rodents don’t like being out in the open. Even as biosecurity challenges arise nation- and worldwide, it’s important that we adhere to the protocols in place and trust them to keep our flocks safe. For instance, Avian Influenza (AI) is current a hot topic among producers. But at Cobb, we don’t ever change our biosecurity protocols in reaction to an AI outbreak because we’re already taking the necessary safety precautions. Instead, we make sure our employees have all the facts and we regularly familiarize them with the proper steps to take. Read more about the biosecurity measures we have in place at Cobb.