Background: Farm-level biosecurity provides the foundation for biosecurity along the entire production chain. Many risk management practices are constantly in place, regardless of whether there is a disease outbreak or not. Nonetheless, the farm-level costs of preventive biosecurity have rarely been assessed. We examined the costs incurred by preventive biosecurity for Finnish poultry farms.
Methods: We used a semi-structured phone interview and obtained results from 17 broiler producers and from 5 hatching egg producers, corresponding to about 10% of all producers in Finland.
Results: Our results indicate that the average cost of biosecurity is some 3.55 eurocent per bird for broiler producers (0.10 eurocent per bird per rearing day) and 75.7 eurocent per bird for hatching egg producers (0.27 eurocent per bird per rearing day). For a batch of 75,000 broilers, the total cost would be €2,700. The total costs per bird are dependent on the annual number of birds: the higher the number of birds, the lower the cost per bird. This impact is primarily due to decreasing labour costs rather than direct monetary costs. Larger farms seem to utilise less labour per bird for biosecurity actions. There are also differences relating to the processor with which the producer is associated, as well as to the gender of the producer, with female producers investing more in biosecurity. Bird density was found to be positively related to the labour costs of biosecurity. This suggests that when the bird density is higher, greater labour resources need to be invested in their health and welfare and hence disease prevention. The use of coccidiostats as a preventive measure to control coccidiosis was found to have the largest cost variance between the producers, contributing to the direct costs.
Conclusions: The redesign of cost-sharing in animal diseases is currently ongoing in the European Union. Before we can assert how the risk should be shared or resort to the 'polluter pays' principle, we need to understand how the costs are currently distributed. The ongoing study contributes towards understanding these issues. The next challenge is to link the costs of preventive biosecurity to the benefits thus acquired.