Enhancing biosecurity in livestock production


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Species: Cattle, Pigs, Poultry, Small ruminants

Country: Belgium, Worldwide

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The BioCheck.UGent algorithm resulting in biosecurity surveys was developed by the unit for Veterinary
Epidemiology of Ghent University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Belgium. Biocheck.UGent is a risk-
based, independent scoring system to evaluate the level of on-farm biosecurity. The surveys focus both
on internal and external biosecurity and can be used to collect data around the globe. At this moment,
surveys are available for commercial livestock species; pigs, cattle (dairy, beef and veal calves) and
poultry (layers and broilers with and without outdoor access, turkeys, breeding and ducks).
The surveys can be conducted continuously, one farm can be assessed multiple times in case of training
and coaching to monitor the progress. Furthermore, is the Biocheck.UGent methodology implemented
in national or extra-legal legislation (e.g. Belgium, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Finland).
Basis use of the tool, access to the surveys and farm-specific reports is free of charge.

Data collection

The Biocheck.UGent surveys are used worldwide. In some countries completing the survey is obliged by
law for specific animal species, in other countries the use is completely voluntary. For example in Belgium, each commercial pig farm with more than three pigs is obliged by law to complete the pig
survey yearly (on a separate platform).
The goal is to evaluate the different aspects of biosecurity on the farm in order to monitor and improve
(critical) biosecurity measures.
Data are collected by doing a farm visit with observation on-site with direct inspection of the production
units by using the online Biocheck.UGent tool. A paper version of the survey can also be used and needs
to be digitised via the website afterward. Data on internal and external biosecurity are collected by
answering the questions of the survey. The tool does not focus on specific animal diseases.
The survey can be done by the farm veterinarian, owner, worker, farm veterinary advisor,
researchers,…. In case it is legally obliged, it can also be done by private veterinarians or technicians paid
by the official veterinary services for doing the assessment. The person that is interviewed during the
evaluation is preferably the farm owner or manager.

Data analysis, reporting and benchmarking

The aim of completing the survey is to have a general overview of the biosecurity situation on-site.
Therefore, the data are analysed automatically by using a scoring method (algorithm) based on weighting biosecurity measures or a group of measures. This algorithm is animal species specific and
developed after literature searches and expert opinions. The surveys are updated if new insights arise.

In the free version of the tool, a report with the scores of a specific farm for each group of biosecurity
measures is provided. Moreover, is this farm always benchmarked to the average farm in the world
(based on all Biocheck.UGent’s data). If the country where a specific survey is filled in has already over
40 entries, a national average, and thus benchmark is provided in the report as well.
In the advanced membership (paid version), feedback is also given to the farmer through a written
report with recommendations and suggestions on how to improve the farm biosecurity. An overview of
the internal and external biosecurity scores for each category of biosecurity measures for each country
with 40 or more entries is present on the website.

More information – contact

Biocheck.ugent | biocheckgent.com