National Farm-Level Mink Biosecurity Standard
Section 3: Operational Management
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Mortality, Manure, Garbage, and Waste Management
3.1 Mortality Management
Producers should assume all dead mink are contaminated with microbial pathogens and require handling in a manner that ensures disease pathogens are not spread to other mink on the premises or to other farms.
The proper handling of dead mink is an important biosecurity principle; recommended practices include
- providing appropriately designed storage and disposal facilities for dead mink to ensure physical isolation from the herd and to prevent access by scavengers and pests;
- following an accepted method of dead mink disposal; and
- following a SOP for the daily collection, handling, and recording of dead mink found on the farm.
Most infectious pathogens survive for considerable amounts of time in the carcasses of dead mink. Bacterial, fungal, and some parasitic agents will actually replicate and increase in numbers. Rodents, flies, and other scavengers with access to these carcasses can spread disease pathogens across the farm, to neighbouring farms and to wildlife.
3.1.1 Target Outcome
When dead mink are stored temporarily prior to disposal, storage should be in a dedicated storage facility and in a manner that prevents unintended access and the transmission of microbial pathogens.
The temporary storage and final disposal of dead mink must comply with federal, provincial, and municipal government regulations. The process to dispose of dead mink includes prompt collection, removal to a contained temporary storage if used, and final disposal by an approved method such as composting, deadstock collection/rendering, incineration, burial, or by another approved method.
The temporary storage facility should be located away from the mink production areas (i.e. sheds, feed kitchen, and pelting areas) and should be designed to prevent pests and scavengers from gaining access to the dead mink.
3.1.2 Target Outcome
Daily procedures are established and implemented for the collection and removal of dead mink from the production area.
Dedicate specific equipment to high-risk activities, including dead-mink collection, storage, and disposal. When this is not feasible, clean and disinfect equipment prior to use for other tasks.
3.1.3 Target Outcome
Dead mink are disposed of in a manner that minimizes the transmission of microbial pathogens and in accordance with applicable government regulations.
The disposal of dead mink must comply with federal, provincial, and municipal government regulations.
3.2 Manure Management
Manure is a source of pathogens and must be properly handled, stored, and disposed of to minimize pathogen transmission. Some microbial pathogens can remain infectious in the environment for years.
3.2.1 Target Outcome
Manure is handled, stored, and disposed of in a manner that minimizes the transmission of microbial pathogens.
Locate manure storage and disposal away from the production area or off-site. Any equipment – for example, tractors, wagons, shovels, and wheelbarrows – used in this process should either be dedicated equipment or be cleaned and disinfected before their use for other tasks. Immediately clean up manure spills during handling and removal and, when necessary, clean and disinfect tools, equipment, and the area to prevent the spread of microbial pathogens.
3.3 Garbage and Waste Management
3.3.1 Target Outcome
Garbage is handled, stored, and disposed of on each premises in a manner that minimizes the transmission of microbial pathogens.
Contain and store garbage in sealed containers prior to disposal to prevent pest access and possible microbial pathogen spread.
3.3.2 Target Outcome
Pelting and processing waste is handled, stored, and disposed of in a manner that minimizes the transmission of microbial pathogens.
The pelting process generates a considerable amount of waste that the farm must handle and dispose of. This waste includes the mink carcass after the pelt is removed, fat from the pelt, and sawdust or similar material that is used during this process, and other packaging and handling garbage. The disposal of pelting and processing waste must comply with federal, provincial, and municipal government regulations; examples of approved methods may include composting, rendering, incineration, or burial.
Operational Management Key Points: Mortalities, Manure, Garbage, and Waste
- Properly handle, store, and dispose of mortalities, garbage, and pelting waste to effectively reduce the risk of transmitting microbial pathogens on and off the premises.
- Comply with federal, provincial, and municipal government regulations regarding mortality, carcass and manure storage, and disposal.
- Establish a mortality collection and disposal system on each premises.
- Promptly collect dead mink in leak-proof containers for subsequent removal to a temporary storage area or disposal location.
- Ensure mortality, garbage, and pelting waste storage and disposal areas are designed to prevent scavenging by wildlife or pets.
- Ensure mortality, garbage, and pelting waste storage prevents exposure of mink and other animals to microbial pathogens.
- Ensure staff wear appropriate biosecurity clothing and follow biosecurity protocols during the pelting process and when handling manure, mortalities, and garbage.
- Collect, store, and dispose of manure, garbage, and pelting waste in a biosecure manner.
3.4 Water Management
3.4.1 Target Outcome
Water, to meet the physiologic needs of mink (drinking and misting), is tested at least annually and treated as necessary to ensure it meets water quality standards for livestock consumption.
Water quality is affected by many things including pH, mineral content and contaminants such as microbial pathogens and chemicals and may cause illness in mink. Surface water – such as in ponds, creeks, and rivers – used for drinking and/or misting should be treated so that it meets water quality standards for livestock consumption.
3.4.2 Target Outcome
Where feasible, closed water sources and closed drinking/delivery systems are used to supply water to meet the physiologic needs of the mink.
Water systems, such as a municipal water supply, are routinely tested, treated, and under pressure, preventing contamination from entering the system. Closed delivery and drinking systems provide added assurances of water quality. Deep drilled wells can offer added protection from surface contamination.
3.4.3 Target Outcome
Water lines, nipples, and cups are regularly maintained and sanitized.
Biofilm and scale contribute to poor water quality by
- interfering with water flow;
- reducing consumption because of reduced palatability;
- decreasing the effectiveness of antibiotics and medications added through the drinking system; and
- harbouring microbial pathogens, resulting in elevated levels/counts of bacteria, and other pathogens in water.
Operational Management Key Points: Water
Drinking water for mink should be free of contamination and meet water quality standards for livestock consumption:
- Use drilled well or municipal water supplies, closed drinking systems, and nipple drinkers where feasible.
- Treat surface water if used to supply water for drinking and/or misting.
- Test water quality at least annually.
- Treat the incoming water, and clean and disinfect the water system, if required.
3.5 Feed Management
Feed quality for mink should be maintained at the best possible standards to provide proper nutrient levels and to minimize microbial load. Managing the time, temperature, handling and storage of feed ingredients, and final feed product is a critical component of maintaining a healthy herd.
Mink feeds have the greatest variability of any livestock feed in terms of the variety of ingredients, nutrient content, and bacterial quality. Mink farmers may not know how feed or individual feed ingredients were obtained or handled prior to arrival at the farm.
Feed and feed ingredients may become contaminated by biological, physical, and chemical contaminants at their source during manufacturing, transport, storage, and feeding.
Feed that includes poultry and livestock offal are inherently contaminated with many types of bacteria and often a variety of viruses. Bacterial and toxin contamination of mink feeds, such as Salmonella and botulism, continues to be a concern and is often a result of contamination of source feed ingredient materials and their exposure to temperatures that promote bacterial growth.
3.5.1 Target Outcome
Feed is of the highest nutritional quality available, which supports the health and development of mink.
The goal is to ensure that feed contains appropriate nutrient levels for mink with negligible biological, chemical, and physical contaminants.
3.5.2 Target Outcome
Feed ingredients and feed are treated/processed to maintain quality and safety when necessary.
Raw animal products and by-products, if improperly handled, are susceptible to contamination and rapid bacterial growth.
Adding acids to feeds and using ensiled ingredients are examples of how feed can be treated to minimize bacterial growth.
Animal proteins and fats, even when held at low temperatures, can degrade. This process can negatively impact food quality and the health of mink. Some microbial pathogens can continue to grow at low temperatures. The storage and turnover of some raw product feed ingredients is time-sensitive.
3.5.3 Target Outcome
Feed and feed ingredients are stored at temperatures that maintain quality, safety, and that minimize the growth of microbial pathogens.
Delivered feed or feed ingredients that are not being used for the current day's feed production must be cooled and/or frozen as soon as possible to reduce potential bacterial/pathogen growth. Once mixed, stored feed should be kept cool to reduce pathogen growth until shipped or fed. If not being frozen for future delivery, wet feed should be fed out within 48 hours of mixing due to the rapid growth of pathogens when the temperature cannot be controlled. During warmer weather, all feed not stored under refrigeration should be used daily as pathogens multiply more quickly at higher ambient temperatures.
Unconsumed feed should be removed from the pens. In warm weather, unconsumed feed should be removed daily.
To prevent the potential spread of disease pathogens on-farm, the practice of re-feeding unconsumed feed is discouraged, as it can quickly spread disease to other mink. Collect unconsumed or waste feed, and temporarily store in sealed containers until disposed of in accordance with federal, provincial, and municipal government regulations. This may include processes such as composting, burial, or rendering.
3.5.4 Target Outcome
Feed ingredient and feed storage areas are designed, and procedures are implemented, to minimize disease introduction and spread. Feed preparation and storage areas, feed mixing, grinding and handling equipment are well maintained and personnel adhere to strict sanitation protocols to prevent contamination of feed ingredients and feed.
Contamination of feed ingredient and feed with microbial pathogens is a serious threat to the health of mink. Pathogens can spread through contact of clean feed with previously contaminated feed-handling equipment and storage containers, or by personnel who handle feed and do not observe strict hygiene procedures.
In the event of an emergency disease situation, feed delivery companies should initiate emergency/heightened biosecurity protocols.
3.5.5 Target Outcome
On-farm feed kitchens, feed-ingredient delivery and storage areas, and the feed storage and shipping area are designed and managed as a controlled zone (i.e. RAZ or CAZ) to minimize the transmission of microbial pathogens and feed contamination.
On-farm feed kitchens, especially those supplying feed to multiple mink farms, pose a significant risk for the transmission of microbial pathogens and the chemical, biological, and physical contamination of feeds. The site where the feed kitchen is located is at high risk for potentially introducing microbial pathogens, which may be transmitted to the farm on contaminated clothing, equipment, and vehicles. In turn, microbial pathogens may be transmitted to other mink farms that receive contaminated feed products.
In addition, due to the nature of raw feed ingredients and their bacterial load, there is a potential of microbial pathogen contamination through the delivery, handling, and storage of feed ingredients, and the feed manufacturing process.
A properly designed feed kitchen significantly mitigates these risks; however, procedures must be relied upon to ensure feed quality when the location and design compromise biosecurity. Designating the feed kitchen as a RAZ and controlling its access (to select areas) by people, equipment, and vehicles limits potential pathogen introduction or spread. Following proper sanitation procedures reduces any potential introduction or spread of pathogens from this area.
Operational Management Key Points: Feed
Supplying mink with quality feed is the goal of every mink producer. Procedures are in place for feed kitchens and feed delivery personnel to minimize the risk of pathogen transmission between farms.
- Good manufacturing practices are in place in all feed and feed ingredient storage and processing areas
- The feed production area is considered a RAZ, and all biosecurity precautions entering and leaving a RAZ are followe
- Feed ingredient and feed storage facilities are well-maintained and functional.
- Proper feed ingredient and feed-handling practices are in place, which include maintaining and sanitizing feed equipment.
- Proper timing of handling, storage, processing, and feeding of feed ingredients and mixed feed will reduce potential pathogen growth.
- A program to monitor the bacterial levels of feed ingredients and finished feed is in place in all feed production areas.
- Biosecurity procedures are developed for feed delivery to feed kitchens, which include flexible scheduling, use of personal protective equipment and truck sanitation, in the event of an infectious disease event.
3.6.1 Target Outcome
Bedding material is obtained and stored in a manner that minimizes contamination by microbial pathogens and chemical contaminants.
Source bedding from reputable suppliers. Ensure that the bedding is clean, dry, and free of contaminants, including terpenes and other resins present in some coniferous tree wood. Store bedding in a manner that prevents contamination, ensuring that it remains clean and dry. Require pest control in bedding storage areas to prevent contamination with feces from rodents, raccoons, feral cats, and other wildlife.
3.6.2 Target Outcome
Bedding material in nest boxes is properly maintained; it is changed between cycles, after illness, and when soiled.
Soiled or contaminated bedding will support the growth of pathogens and attract pests, resulting in the exposure of all mink, but especially kits, to high levels of pathogens.
Operational Management Key Points: Bedding
- Purchase bedding that is free from contaminants.
- Store bedding to ensure that it is kept clean and dry.
- Keep the bedding storage facility doors closed.
- Include the bedding storage facility in the farm pest-control program.
- Handle clean bedding material in a biosecure manner.
- Provide a healthy environment for mink by monitoring bedding condition, and adding or changing bedding routinely, or as required.
- Remove old or soiled bedding material from the production area to the waste storage area.
3.7 Premises, Building, Equipment, and Vehicle Sanitation
3.7.1 Target Outcome
Premises, building, equipment, and vehicle sanitation procedures are in place to minimize the introduction, harbouring and transmission of microbial pathogens.
Sanitation procedures that are applied to all areas of the farm and to vehicles and equipment that come onto, off of, or move around the premises can break the cycle of microbial pathogens. When disease is encountered, proper sanitation procedures allow for farm cleanup, thus protecting mink from disease hazards.
3.7.2 Target Outcome
Ensure that new buildings and equipment are designed to allow appropriate cleaning and disinfection.
As important as cost and design, ease of cleaning and disinfection should be considered prior to purchasing equipment and building structures. Sanitation plays an important role in the health of the mink herd and can require significant time and effort.
Operational Management Key Points: Premises & Sanitation
- Carry out cleaning and disinfection procedures when mink sheds and facilities are empty.
- Clean facilities first by removing visible organic material, and then use a cleaning solution to wash or foam/rinse remaining organic material and biofilm.
- Select a proper disinfectant for the problem pathogens that the farm has encountered, and use only on facilities that have been properly cleaned.
- Follow the manufacturer's recommendations in mixing and applying the disinfectant solution.
- Recognize that facility and site design should enhance the drainage of water away from the production area.
- Inspect and maintain facilities, fences, gates, doors, and pens to prevent pest entry and mink escapes.
3.8 Pest/Pet Control
Pests are a potential source of microbial pathogens for mink. There are methods to control each class of pest.
Cats and other pets can carry and may spread microbial pathogens. If dogs and cats are allowed on-farm, they should be properly vaccinated and monitored for health. Feral cats should not be allowed on mink farms.
3.8.1 Target Outcome
An integrated pest control program is in place to control pests.
An integrated pest control program is designed to control multiple pests.
Operational Management Key Points: Sanitation and Pest Control
- Pests, dirty equipment, and vehicles can transmit disease and must be managed appropriately by sanitation and pest control programs.
- Poorly constructed and maintained buildings can provide access and refuge for pests, resulting in the accumulation of microbial pathogens and pests on-site.
- Use humane methods of pest exclusion by focusing first on making mink housing, feed, and bedding areas pest proof.
- If prevention measures fail, use lethal methods of pest control, in consultation with pest control experts, to ensure the safety of mink, people, pets, and non-target species.
- A well-designed and constructed security fence is an important biosecurity measure in excluding many pests.
3.9 Biosecurity Program and Training
3.9.1 Target Outcome
All people who work on the premises know and understand the rationale and importance of biosecurity and biosecurity protocols.
It is important for all management and staff to receive biosecurity training and briefing before working with mink, ensuring they understand their own tasks and have general knowledge of all aspects of the process.
People who understand the purpose and importance of a biosecurity measure are more likely to adopt the practice as part of their daily routine. They are also more likely to ensure that visitors and service providers follow on-farm biosecurity practices.
3.9.2 Target Outcome
All people who work on the premises have reviewed the biosecurity-related instructions as needed, based on their assigned tasks.
The best way to ensure farm staff – including family members, if applicable – are clear on how to complete their assigned tasks in a biosecure manner is to have written procedures that are reviewed with them and updated when necessary.
A SOP must be easy to read while describing the steps followed to meet an objective; for example, an SOP that details feed and feed ingredient handling and feeding practices. SOPs should be readily available, reviewed regularly, and followed at all times.
In the event of a disease outbreak, provisions for additional or more rigorous biosecurity measures either on the premises or within the region are included.
Mink producers, who do not employ staff and carry out all activities on the premises themselves, still need to document their procedures. Written records will help to ensure the biosecurity measures are implemented and can serve as a guide to farming procedures when temporary staff are required or if a health problem occurs with the producer or staff.
Operational Management Key Points: Biosecurity Program and Training
- Recognize that management and staff are more likely to implement biosecurity when they understand its importance.
- Facilitate the learning and implementation of biosecurity for staff by developing written procedures for common tasks and ensuring the staff understands them.
- Provide biosecurity training for farm staff, family, service providers, and visitors.
- Keep a record of deviations that occur concerning the farm's biosecurity procedures.
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