In 2015, the Wetlands Biosecurity Program was created. Funded by the industry, it has gain relevance in Chilean poultry farming, protecting 167 small producers from the spread of Avian influenza and other diseases, both endemic and exotic.
The program started out as a quick and effective response to a major Avian influenza outbreak that hit the United States, to protect backyard birds in areas close to wetlands, where migratory and local wild birds coexist, and avoid the spread to the poultry industry.
The program prevents the entry of exotic and endemic diseases by supporting backyard poultry farmers near seven wetlands of epidemiological importance in the Chilean regions of Arica, Coquimbo, Valparaíso, and Metropolitan. This is done to help preserve Chile’s biosecurity and avoid the consequences that an outbreak of Avian influenza or other diseases with high economic and productive impact could produce, such as bird culling, market closures or economic losses.
First, the Wetlands Biosecurity Program carried out a comprehensive survey of local producers to identify areas with high concentration of migratory birds, potential disease carriers; after that, and for over 7 years now, it has supported them with construction and repair of coops to safeguard the birds, monthly feed delivery, health check-ups, veterinary consulting (vaccination programs), and health-related training on biosecurity issues, disease identification, necropsies, and others. There is also a training program on key farm biosecurity measures supported by the Agricultural Development Institute (INDAP), the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG), Prodemu (foundation for the advancement of women), and Prodesal (local development program). The training program also covers recognizing relevant diseases for poultry farming and public health, and production management, where farmers learn about managing light, feeding, egg production improvements, and necropsies to help them identify sick birds.
These measures have focused on seven relevant Chilean wetlands: Lluta, Punta Teatinos, La Ligua, Concón, Batuco, Río Maipo, and El Yali. The program is funded by the private sector, with a 40% contribution from ChileCarne, 35% from ChileHuevos (egg producers), and 25% from non-related organizations. This collaboration reflects how all those involved in poultry farming work together.
To date, more than 1.2 billion CLP have been allocated to the program; thanks to that, none of the 167 small producers tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza in 2023. Additionally, a collaboration with the Universidad de Chile and La Semilla Foundation helped improve poultry farmers’ facilities, leading to increases in egg production up to 400%.
Carolina Larraín, ChileCarne’s Head of Poultry Health highlights: “Without this program, the risk of diseases such as Avian influenza spreading would be significantly higher, with the resulting impact on the market. The program has proven with facts that biosecurity is the best and most effective disease prevention tool.”
The testimonies speak for themselves. Petrona Gómez has been working with the program in El Yali for three years; she says that egg production has gone up and diseases down. Sergio Farías and María Elena Berríos joined the program since it started. They value the improvements and the continuous support, which have help them navigate production challenges.
“I’ve been in the program since it started and the first thing they did was building a chicken coop. They give me the feed I need, which is very good because I live off my pension. Now my hens produce more and get sick much less. I haven’t had any problems with diseases and I’m very happy with the Wetlands Program,” Mr. Farías said.
The Wetlands Biosecurity Program has become a pillar of the Chilean poultry farming’s growth, proving that prevention and collaboration can produce positive and sustainable results.
For more information about the Program, visit (in Spanish):
Wetlands Program Gallery: