In rabbit breeding, Biosecurity is a compulsory measure to limit the introduction, circulation and persistence of contaminants (pathogens that cause disease) in the production unit, in addition to their spreading to other production sites. Particular attention must be paid to controlling Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD ) as well as other factors that encourage further outbreaks.
The layout of the building and its immediate vicinity must be taken into account in preventing risks of contamination.
It is very important to distinguish 3 activity zones on the farm:
Maintaining a Biosecurity plan is compulsory. A Biosafety Plan is mandatory. It includes the register of permanent staff and their training certificates, the breeding register, the site circulation plan, the Cleaning & Disinfection programme detailed step by step, the register of crop protection and biocidal products used on the farm, the pest control plan and finally the self-checking plan.
Each production unit has its own sanitary airlock. This is divided into 2 areas that can be washed and disinfected. It must be equipped with a hot water washbasin, liquid soap, paper towels and waste bins. It must be separate from the storage area for nesting elements.
The surroundings of the building must be clean and well maintained (grass cut, no waste stored along the walls) to avoid harbouring pests (rodents, insects). The entrances to the building have concrete slabs in front to facilitate disinfection.
Minimum distances from water bodies and third party housing must be respected. These are set out in the currently applicable legislation (in France they are generally found in departmental texts).
The area for storage of the materials forming the nest must be:
Note: the materials used must be of secure origin and used materials must be disposed of and stored away from the production site.
A young rabbit’s body consists of 80% water and that of an adult rabbit 66%. If the quality of the water is not controlled, it may be a vector for potentially pathogenic germs and thus affect the animals’ health and performance.
The drinking water intended for the rabbits is not subject to any legislation setting quality standards, unlike water for human consumption, which is required to fulfil potability criteria. The regulations solely stipulate that it should be of “adequate” quality, and to meet this requirement, a certain number of criteria are defined.
Although no established standard exists, it is recommended to test for the absence of microorganisms (total Coli, E. coli, streptococci, etc.) in 100 ml of water.
Contamination may already occur at the water catchment point, but also in the farm piping, particularly owing to the residual biofilm . In order to ascertain the bacteriological quality of the water, an analysis should be carried out (ideally at the airlock and at the end of the line). In the event of inadequate bacteriological quality, it is recommended that corrective measures be taken: checking the watertightness of the catchment point and implementing water disinfection (chlorine dioxide, hydrogen peroxide or chlorine).
It is essential to be aware of the physical and chemical quality of the drinking water, as under certain circumstances, it may cause:
A physical and chemical analysis of the water should be carried out at least once every 2 years.
Purging under pressure is essential during the cleaning operations to achieve a sufficient mechanical flushing effect in order to wash out the impurities removed from the piping walls by the cleaning products.
The standard procedure for cleaning the inside of the pipes to remove as much biofilm as possible is as follows:
The Circulator with continuous return to the tank device ensures that good water quality is maintained and that cleaning is carried out during the batch.
The Cleaning & Disinfection programme and depopulation period are to be defined and adapted to suit the breeding system.
Only a clean surface can be disinfected.
Good disinfection is impossible without proper washing beforehand, which already achieves 70 to 80% of the decontamination.
Washing and disinfection of the ventilation systems is also essential to avoid rapid and early recontamination of a bunch.
The washing and scouring of certain parts of the building are the most tedious but above all the most important operations for properly carrying out a disinfection procedure.
Organic matter (straw, droppings) inhibits the action of disinfectants. The success of disinfection is thus influenced by the thoroughness applied to the cleaning process.
Use of detergency also makes it possible to restore a “new cage” appearance, particularly if carried out using a foaming product.
This is the first disinfection operation after washing the building. It is usually carried out by spraying the previously cleaned surfaces.. On no account should it be performed by thermal fogging or nebulisationon health and regulatory grounds.
There are risk factors in a badly performed spray disinfection:
The equipment used for decontamination
The use of a foam gun makes it easier to apply the disinfectant, provided that a foaming product is used. When applied in foam form, the disinfectant is more effective. The foam indeed allows the product to achieve better adhesion to the surface, thereby increasing the contact time and therefore the efficacy of the decontamination. The product employed must comply with the currently applicable legislation (mandatorily category TP3).
For operator safety, protective measures are indispensable during operations involving Cleaning & Disinfection.