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Biosecurity Guidelines for the Ostrich Industry 1

29 September 2006

Bio-security and disease monitoring in particular are important aspects of disease control that need to be addressed in future to prevent further disease problems, especially avian influenza.

The following applies to all domestic ostrich facilities that supply an export facility (e.g. breeder farms that supply a specific hatchery, grower farms that supply a certain abattoir) and all other establishments keeping and breeding ostriches for the sale of ostrich products or live ostriches.

  • Purchase of ostriches
    Ostriches should only be bought or received onto a farm from sources that have previously tested negative.
    Ostriches should not be bought from a source unless it has been tested negative for avian influenza.
  • Traceability
    • Registration of all ostrich farms/holdings
      It is essential that all ostrich farms/holdings in the country, irrespective of size and whether the ostriches are kept for the export of meat, are registered by the Provincial Veterinary Services, as well as the South African Ostrich Business Chamber which maintains a central database for the industry. Full GPS details of the location of the farm have to be obtained.
      The registration is compulsory for chick raisers, growers, breeders or integrated ostrich production units.
    • Proper identification
      All ostriches on the farm/holding have to be identified. This is essential to facilitate good record keeping. The tag may be located under the wing or in the neck. It must be clearly legible once the ostrich has been caught and restrained. All ostriches above the age of 3-4 months have to be tagged, but definitely before any movement occurs (any age). If ostrich chicks at a younger age are to be moved, they have to be tagged at a younger age, prior to movement.
      A unique ostrich tag (4 months and older) with a unique identification number must be used. It is applied by an official vaccinator, animal health technician or State Veterinarian, and the identification numbers with the designated registered farm details submitted to the central database of the SAOBC.
    • Movement control
      Access control must be implemented and the farm must clearly display the production unit function (e.g. breeder, hatchery, grower etc.), access control requirements and farm registration.
      All ostriches moving onto or from a farm must be accompanied by a movement permit and be included in the passport register, with a health attestation from the State veterinary officer of the region where the birds originate from.
      Ostriches destined for slaughter at an export abattoir must move with a passport with a permit number, as allocated by the SAOBC, where the number will also be kept in the central database. All movements [origin, destination, permit number etc.] must be kept on record by the producer.
    • Records
      All producers must keep the following records which must be available for inspection or auditing by an official of the competent authority.
      - Monthly stock record [to be submitted at the end of the month to the SAOBC]
      - Drug usage record
      - Post-mortem records
      - Passport document
      Ė local movement between farms and permit with a passport for movement to the export abattoir for slaughter.
  • Bio-security
    • Separation of species
      There should be no other domestic bird species kept in close contact with ostriches. These include ducks, geese, free range/backyard fowl and turkeys.
      Pigs should also not be kept in close contact with ostriches.
    • Wild birds, especially wild water birds, should be discouraged from having contact with the ostriches. Ostriches should not be kept in camps where there are open pans or vlei areas. Such an area should be properly fenced off to prevent access by ostriches.
    • Workers should be prohibited from keeping their own poultry, either at dwellings on the farm itself or at houses away from the farm.
    • Feed
      • Supply
        Feed troughs should consist of structured raised troughs to discourage visitations by wild birds.
        Sufficient and regular feed should be supplied to ensure there is no unnecessary left-over feed to attract wild birds.
    • Water
      • Supply
        The supply of water for ostriches should consist of structured water troughs in properly constructed and dedicated areas that supply water without attracting wild water birds.
        Water troughs should be cleaned and disinfected on a weekly basis (at least) or as determined by risk factors.
      • Disinfection
        Drinking water should be disinfected with a suitable disinfectant to inactivate any possible influenza virus without harming the ostriches.
        Registered disinfectants that could be used include: F10, Virukill, Virkon or standard water chlorination methods (dosage 1-3 ppm; free chlorine 0.2 Ė 0.5 ppm).
      • Irrigation canals
        In areas where camps are linked by means of irrigation canals these canals have to be fenced off. This will prevent faecal material from ostriches from being transported to neighbouring camps along the route of the canal system.
  • Surveillance
    (See surveillance protocol)
  • General
    t is highly recommended that producers make use of health technicians/ veterinary services to supplement their health programme and assist in early disease surveillance and control. It is essential that all ostrich farmers and their veterinarians liaise closely with their respective State Veterinarians. Transparency is essential and any outbreak of disease, or suspected outbreak of disease, has to, according to the Animal Diseases Act (Act No 35 of 1984), be reported to the State Veterinary Services. This will ensure that the presence and nature of the disease is established without delay and necessary measures can be instituted by the veterinary authority to control losses and prevent the potential spread of the disease.
  • Export farms must further comply with the relevant VPN (Veterinary Procedure Notice Ė Producers can obtain details of the VPN from their State Veterinarians.)

Source: South African Ostrich Business Chamber

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