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HomeAgrotechHow Bacteriophage Solutions Revolutionise Poultry Farming

How Bacteriophage Solutions Revolutionise Poultry Farming

By Dr Krishna Sahoo, Global Product Manager, Proteon Pharmaceuticals

Given the high prevalence of disease in poultry due to intensive farming, innovative solutions such as bacteriophages are the need of the hour.

In 2018, the Indian poultry market was valued at Rs 1,750 billion and it is expected to reach Rs 4,340 billion by 2024. Notable for its production of eggs, meat and employing rural people, poultry farming in India is growing every year. However, with tremendous growth, the rate of infectious disease outbreaks in poultry farms has also risen across different regions. To counter this challenge, biosecurity on poultry farms has received increased interest, especially over the past few decades.

What is Biosecurity?

Biosecurity refers to the procedures or methods used to prevent the introduction and spread of disease-causing organisms in poultry farms. Infectious agents like parasites, fungi, protozoa, viruses and bacteria are a serious threat to poultry health, which in turn leads to morbidity and mortality. Biosecurity aims to overcome the indirect and direct threat of diseases to poultry, through effective control measures like cleaning, disinfection, traffic control and segregation. Its main objectives are:

Keep out highly contagious diseases like Newcastle Disease (ND), Infectious Bronchitis (IB), and Infectious bursal disease (IBD) (Gumboro disease)

Reduce pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli

Control vector habitat and attractants

Sanitisation of equipment and supplies

Improve the health of the flock

Reduce mortality losses

Increase profitability

Causative factors

Despite being one of the largest producers of broiler meat and eggs, the Indian poultry industry faces some major challenges. The majority of Indian poultry farms are open buildings where climate control and quarantine mechanisms are out of place. This exposes the birds to potential epidemics and diseases. A study conducted on the samples collected from 160 chickens received at the Veterinary University Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (VUDDL) in Tamil Nadu from 2014 to 2016 showed a high prevalence of infectious diseases like Newcastle Disease, E. coli infection, Salmonellosis, Fowl Cholera, Clostridia infection and Candida infection.

The domestic poultry market in India lacks comprehensive quality standards to maintain optimal hygiene in poultry farms. Farm licensing is done at the municipality level where people often lack the expertise, knowledge and human resources to adhere to the quality standards.

Lack of clean and hygienic dry processing facilities along with waste treatment plants can lead to serious environmental concerns. The wet processing machinery can be a serious threat to the environment, owing to poor waste disposal management.

On top of that, the intensive poultry farming practices are restricting the birds to immunologically compromised, unhygienic crowded locations that are leading to zoonotic disease outbreaks. To combat the zoonotic diseases, there is indiscriminate use of antibiotics which is leading to bacteria developing resistance against them.

The fight against these challenges requires extensive biosecurity measures at every step of poultry farming to mitigate the threats and remain profitable.

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