Chapter 10 Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) Egg and Chicken Production in Australia

10.1 Description of the Australian SPF Sector

SPF fertile eggs are essential in the production of many poultry veterinary vaccines and in some human viral vaccines. Chickens hatched from these eggs may also be used as sentinels in disease control or quarantine programs, or for the diagnosis of or research into avian and mammalian diseases.

There is a single commercial supplier of SPF fertile eggs and chickens in Australia. It operates egg production, hatchery and grow-out facilities for SPF fertile egg and chicken production.

The chickens at this facility are raised under strict biosecurity guidelines, in filtered air positive pressure housing, with weekly serological monitoring to ensure their pathogen free status.

10.2 How a Typical SPF Flock is Established and Maintained

SPF birds are descended from a line of birds bred by CSIRO in 1973. These birds were owned and managed by CSIRO until 1998 when the flock was sold. This has been a closed flock for more than 30 generations.

10.3 Size of Production Units, Types of Husbandry and Shedding

The SPF facility has two production houses and a hatching and grow-out operation for the continued production of fertile SPF eggs and chicks. The hatch/grow facility contains three, 5000 egg incubators and around 500 pullet cages for rearing of production and sentinel birds.

Birds are raised and managed in positive pressure, filtered air housing, on fully slatted floors or in cage facilities.

10.4 Factors that Affect the Size of Flocks and Densities of Poultry Including Financial, Environmental and Animal Welfare Impacts

The fertility and egg production capacity of this line of SPF birds is less than overseas lines but the level of biosecurity this flock is housed under and continued freedom from all diseases endemic in poultry populations around the world, ensure that this flock remains an extremely valuable population of birds. Another line of SPF birds soon to be released from quarantine in Melbourne is expected to increase production in the future.

Fertile eggs and chickens from the facility are shipped to many laboratories and vaccine production sites in all states of Australia. Typically fertile eggs are transported by road and chickens may travel either via road or air. Fertile eggs from this facility are also exported to the USA for production of Australian vaccines that are then re-imported to Australia.

10.5 Commercial Populations of Other Species on the Same Property

There are no commercial populations of other avian species on this property.

10.6 Types of Horizontal Contact Between Industry Sector Flocks and Farms

There is only one commercial SPF flock in Australia so there is no within sector contact with other SPF producers.

Due to the strict biosecurity rules governing this facility, there is no contact between this flock and any other poultry farms or industries.

Feed is irradiated to prevent entry of disease. Contractors that deliver products and dispose of wastes to the farm do so under strict isolation and biosecurity guidelines and do not have contact with other commercial poultry flocks. Farm workers and staff are supplied with reject fertile eggs for home egg consumption, as they are banned by the company from having any contact with other poultry eggs.

Previous page | Contents | Next page