The documents reinforce measures to prevent diseases at all levels, from backyard producers to large businesses. In addition, the creation of a public-private working group for the next summer season —when the country is more exposed to avian influenza—, led by high-level officials underscores the commitment to work together and strengthen the Chilean poultry industry biosecurity.

The strategic plan to strengthen biosecurity in the poultry sector led by the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG) made a significant step forward by issuing new handbooks and verification guidelines. The recently issued Exempt Resolution No. 4,534/2023 is a milestone in the protection and preservation of Chile’s animal health asset.

The handbooks include one for biosecurity in peasant family (AFC, in Spanish) or backyard poultry farming and one for large poultry farms. The documents are essential to set rigorous standards and procedures aimed at minimizing the risk of diseases in poultry farming, both at the family and commercial level. The World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) defines biosecurity as a set of physical and management measures designed to reduce the risk of disease, which is crucial given the current highly pathogenic avian influenza emergency. The handbooks and verification guidelines will be audited by the SAG within a year from their publication.

The handbook for AFC focuses on commercial or small poultry producers for self-consumption or occasional sales. Its goal is to reduce exposure to diseases through essential biosecurity measures. For example, restricting access to production areas, isolating newly introduced birds, and stringent cleaning and disinfection practices. The handbook is particularly relevant for backyard producers, who often have less specialized infrastructure and a diversity of birds.

Similarly, the poultry farm handbook covers biosecurity requirements in a more controlled and commercial environment. With a reach that covers all poultry farms nationwide, the document lays down detailed procedures to control vehicles, people, and birds entering and leaving the farm, as well as stringent cleaning and disinfection measures.

In addition to the handbooks, specific verification guidelines were approved to ensure compliance with the standards. These guidelines are key to ensure that the practices set out in the handbooks are effectively implemented on site.

SAG’s initiative goes in line with the guidelines of international organizations such as the World Trade Organization and the WOAH. By harmonizing national standards and international regulations, Chile is not only protecting its animal health but also promoting safer and more reliable poultry trade.

The approval of the handbooks and verification guidelines is evidence of Chile’s commitment to the health and safety of its poultry industry. These measures put Chile at the lead in the implementation of advanced biosecurity practices, protecting its economy but also public health and animal welfare.

Additionally, the SAG also created the National Biosecurity System for Livestock Facilities (Resolution 2,114/2023) with the goal of preserving and improving the health status of the main animal products and ensuring the quality of byproducts.

Additionally, a public-private working group was created for the 2024 avian influenza season. The meeting was headed by the acting minister of Agriculture, Ignacia Fernández and brought together the national director of SAG, José Guajardo, the president of Chilehuevos, Patricio Kurte, and the president of ChileCarne, Juan Carlos Domínguez. The working group will focus on increasing biosecurity measures and coordinating the efforts of various public agencies.

“We have met with the egg and poultry industry to create a working group for the upcoming summer season, when we could see a higher prevalence of the virus,” said the acting minister. Fernández went on to say that biosecurity measures will be reinforced in industrial and “small backyard poultry farms (…) and we will also work together with other government agencies involved in anti-smuggling and pest control focusing on the potential impact on poultry and egg production.”

The new action plan includes an update of the current regulation, which establishes that all activities carried out by technical teams must be based on two documents: an emergency plan for industrial and backyard farming and a health strategy for wild birds. The project “Monitoring of wild birds routes and spatial distribution maps” will continue its implementation, covering the regions of Tarapacá, Maule, Biobío, and Magallanes. There will also be additional training for technical teams and the SAG’s Citizen Service System (SIAC in Spanish) was strengthened to handle the reports submitted by the public through three channels: a Phone Assistance Center (CAT), an automated WhatsApp, and the Office for Information, Complaints, and Suggestions (OIRS).

The poultry industry has a positive opinion of the measures taken. “We need to focus on how we communicate, be ready, and never forget that this is an ongoing threat. Above all, we need to implement biosecurity measures, which are the key to prevent our birds from getting infected,” ChileCarne’s president concluded.

In 2023, the SAG recorded 132,726 sampled birds, of which 8,049 are wild, 25,187 come from industrial farms, and 99,490 from backyard farming. A total of 100,417 wild birds were buried and the SAG’s surveillance confirmed that 51 species of birds tested positive for the avian influenza virus.