National Farm - Level Mink Biosecurity Standard - Producers' Guide
Section 3: Operational Management
Mortality, Manure, Garbage, and Waste Management

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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 standard operating procedure (SOP) for the daily collection, handling, and recording of dead mink found on-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.

Farms that pelt their own mink should ensure that proper biosecurity protocols are in place to safely handle the significant volumes of carcasses and fat that must be stored, transported and disposed of during the harvest season.

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.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Locate the temporary storage facility away from the mink production areas (sheds, feed kitchen, and pelting areas).
  2. Design the temporary storage facility in a way that prevents access by pests and scavengers, and that avoids contamination of the environment.
  3. Use deep freezers for temporary storage of occasional, low-volume mortality.

3.1.2 Target Outcome

Daily procedures are established and implemented for the collection and removal of dead mink from the production area.

While collecting dead mink, it is important to ensure that microbial pathogens that may be present in the animal are not transmitted directly or indirectly to other mink. Ideally, the collection of dead mink should be conducted independently of other animal management tasks, such as feeding or live animal examinations, to protect the health of the herd.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Establish a written mortality management plan on each premises.
  2. Keep a record of daily mink mortalities; collect dead mink at least daily.
  3. Collect and move dead mink, preferably in a sealed container, from the production area to the mortality storage facility.
  4. Collect mink mortalities independently of performing other mink management activities.
  5. Ensure that staff members wear appropriate clothing, boots, and gloves when handling dead mink, and wash their hands and footwear following dead mink collection and disposal.
  6. 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.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Ensure that the disposal of dead mink complies with federal, provincial, and municipal government regulations.
  2. Be aware that disposal methods may include incineration, composting, burial, deadstock collection, rendering, and other acceptable disposal methods that are consistent with applicable municipal, provincial, and federal guidelines.
  3. Properly dispose of dead mink on site, where feasible and permitted. On-farm disposal should be conducted in a manner that ensures disease pathogens are contained or destroyed. It is important to make a distinction between composting and weathering as it pertains to dead mink disposal. Composting is an active process while weathering is simply a passive process where dead mink are piled with waste material.
    1. Composting materials properly requires active monitoring of the compost pile to manage, among other elements, airflow, moisture, temperature and product ratios.
    2. In the composting process, it is primarily the generation of heat that inactivates pathogens; reductions in the moisture content (desiccation), changes in pH, oxygen, and carbon dioxide also affect the survival of pathogens during this process.
    3. Weathering is a passive process; pathogen inactivation results primarily from the desiccation of the microbial pathogen and the effects of sunlight and natural temperature variation. Weathering is not a recommended practice for pathogen inactivation.
    4. On-farm composting should be based on recommendations from accredited sources, such as universities, consultants, and/or governments.
  4. Where outside disposal companies are used, restrict their access to the premises and arrange to transfer mortalities to their containers or vehicles at the edge of the CAZ.

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.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Remove manure from beneath mink pens at frequent intervals, at the end of a production cycle, and after illness in the herd. During warm weather, this should be done more frequently to reduce potential fly problems.
  2. Transport manure to storage and disposal locations in a manner that minimizes potential disease transmission; for example, by covered wagons or manure spreaders which prevent spillage.
  3. Store manure away from animal housing areas and in a manner that minimizes access by pests and pets.
  4. Apply manure to the land according to applicable federal, provincial, and municipal regulations.
  5. When composting manure, follow recommended composting practices, and keep the compost covered to reduce access by pests and pets.
  6. Control shed and site run-off to prevent or minimize the spread of microbial pathogens.
  7. Have staff members who are handling manure change their outer clothing and boots, and wash their hands before starting other activities.

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 garbage, and store in sealed containers prior to disposal to prevent pest access and possible microbial pathogen spread.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Store garbage in covered containers that minimize access by pets and pests.
  2. Store and dispose of garbage away from mink housing areas and in accordance with applicable federal, provincial, and municipal regulations.
  3. Have staff wash their hands, and ensure that clothing is clean prior to returning to work after disposing of garbage.

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.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Once the pelt is removed, place the remaining mink carcass in a covered container. Remove carcasses from the pelting area daily to a storage waste container that minimizes access by pests until disposal. Disposal may include biofuel generation, composting, rendering, burial, and other methods that meet with government regulations.
  2. Place, in a sealable container, fat that is removed from the leather side of the pelt through scraping, suctioning, or other methods in the pelt preparation process. This is an oil or fat by-product of the pelting process, and the container, when full, should be stored in the waste or garbage storage area until shipped or disposed of.
  3. Clean the pelting area daily. Collect the sawdust, or like material, used during the pelting process, place in a covered container, and remove to the manure or organic material storage area. Collect and send with this material any other mink waste material from the pelting utensils and equipment.
  4. Place paper or other waste in the regular garbage container for storage and disposal.

Operational Management Key Points: Mortalities, Manure, Garbage, and Waste

  1. 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.
  2. Comply with federal, provincial, and municipal government regulations regarding mortality, carcass and manure storage, and disposal.
  3. Establish a mortality collection and disposal system on each premises.
  4. Promptly collect dead mink in leak-proof containers for subsequent removal to a temporary storage area or disposal location.
  5. Ensure mortality, garbage, and pelting waste storage and disposal areas are designed to prevent scavenging by wildlife or pets.
  6. Ensure mortality, garbage, and pelting waste storage prevents exposure of mink and other animals to microbial pathogens.
  7. Ensure staff wear appropriate biosecurity clothing and follow biosecurity protocols during the pelting process and when handling manure, mortalities, and garbage.
  8. Collect, store, and dispose of manure, garbage, and pelting waste in a biosecure manner.

3.4 Water Management

Water is the single most important nutrient for mink. Mink require access to potable water at all times. Water is involved in virtually every physiological process in mink production. Water helps transport food through the intestinal tract, transports digested nutrients, and functions as a carrier in waste elimination. For drinking water, both quality and quantity are important.

Contaminated surface water or shallow wells are known sources of infectious agents, including Campylobacter, Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and Pseudomonas bacteria. Some viruses can survive in water for over 40 days. Pseudomonas is a water-loving bacterium and a significant pathogen to mink. Recent investigations of E. coli outbreaks in mink in the United States have established links with contaminated well water.

Water quality is determined from laboratory analysis. Bacterial analysis can provide measures such as coliform counts. Water treatment will effectively reduce coliform counts, but finding an elevated coliform count or high nitrate level in a water source indicates a problem with surface drainage, which may, in turn, require a change in management practices.

A chemical analysis is used to determine the levels of various minerals that are present in a water sample. The Canadian Task Force on Water Quality established the water quality guidelines that are shown in Table 1. Total dissolved solids (TDS), or the filterable residue, is a main indicator of water quality. Levels over 10,000 mg/L are unfit for animal consumption.

Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for Livestock Item Maximum Recommended Limit (mg/L)

Major Ions

  • Calcium 1000.0
  • Sulphate 1000.0
  • Nitrate and Nitrite 100.0
  • Total Dissolved Solids 3000.0
  • Nitrite alone 10.0

Heavy Metals and Trace Ions

  • Aluminum 5.0
  • Cobalt 1.0
  • Nickel 1.0
  • Arsenic 0.5Footnote 1
  • Copper 5.0
  • Selenium 0.05
  • Beryllium 0.1Footnote 2
  • Fluoride 2.0Footnote 3
  • Uranium 0.01
  • Boron 5.0
  • Lead 0.1
  • Zinc 50.0
  • Cadmium 0.02
  • Mercury 0.003
  • Chromium 1.0
  • Molybdenum 0.5

Source: Task Force on Water Quality Guidelines 1987:

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 chemicals and may cause illness in mink. Surface water – such as in ponds, creeks, and rivers – which is used for drinking and/or misting should be treated so that it meets water quality standards for livestock consumption.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Document and implement a water management program to ensure water meets quality standards. The water system is comprised of the water source, water treatment equipment, water pump, supply lines, and drinkers.
  2. Be aware that surface water sources are often contaminated with coliform bacteria and possibly pathogenic diseases. When surface water is used for drinking and misting, water treatment is necessary to meet quality standards for mink and may include some of the following processes:
    • filtration
    • ozone
    • chlorination
    • combinations of treatments
    • ultraviolet irradiation
    • other technologies
  3. Regardless of the method used, monitor water treatment equipment frequently, and test water to alert the producer when the treatment process has failed.
  4. Perform water testing at the source and at the delivery end of the water lines at least annually to ensure that drinking water standards for mink are met.
  5. Increase the frequency of water testing when there is an increased risk of contamination of the water system; for example, recirculating water systems, heavy rains, spring run-off, flooding and spreading of manure.
  6. Know that standard testing will not identify waterborne viruses of particular concern. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, by qualified laboratories, may be an option in determining whether the water source is contaminated with virus in disease-infected areas; this should be performed in consultation with a veterinarian. The detection of viruses in water samples may serve as a tool to evaluate the risks associated with water uses, disease risks posed by neighbouring mink farms, the efficacy of water treatment, or other health risks to mink.

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.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Use water systems, such as municipal water sources, deep wells, or shallow wells to provide water for mink. Municipal water supplies and deep drilled wells provide the safest supply of water. Municipal water supplies are treated, tested, and pressurized, minimizing contaminants. Closed drinking systems, such as nipple drinkers, protect water supplies from external contamination.
  2. Recirculating water systems require additional monitoring to prevent the transmission of pathogens to mink through water backflow and the contamination of water lines and holding tanks.

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.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Remove biofilm and scale during cleaning to ensure disinfection is effective by adding a solution of acid – namely, citric or acetic acid – to the water lines and system, leaving it set for 48 hours. Follow this with a thorough flushing of the system.
  2. Take extra care to keep water cups clean during the summer months when additional water is supplied in drinking cups for juvenile mink.
  3. Clean and disinfect recirculating water systems frequently to ensure good water quality is maintained.

Operational Management Key Points: Water

Drinking water for mink should be free of contamination and meet water quality standards for livestock consumption:

  1. Use drilled well or municipal water supplies, closed drinking systems, and nipple drinkers where feasible.
  2. Treat surface water if used to supply water for drinking and/or misting.
  3. Test water quality at least annually.
  4. 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. Due to the potential microbial pathogen load in many raw products of animal origin, the mink farmer should obtain feed ingredients or feed from known suppliers who operate under a food quality or food safety program.

Feed and feed ingredients may become contaminated by biological, physical, and chemical contaminants at their source during manufacturing, transport, storage, and feeding.

Feed ingredients and feed are often sourced from a wide geographic area with frozen poultry and fish offal often being shipped with commercial trucking companies or from dedicated mink feed ingredient suppliers that make multiple stops when they deliver feed. These deliveries, if biosecurity protocols are not followed, can be a source of disease transmission.

Farm-dedicated or non-dedicated feed containers that are returned to the feed kitchen, rather than being filled on-farm, can potentially carry back microbial pathogens to the feed kitchen in the containers. If feed is delivered to the farm in containers (e.g. fish boxes or totes), rather than pumped into containers on-farm, there is the possibility for transmission of microbial pathogens with the containers.

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.

Suggested best practices:

  1. For easy access, keep records of feed ingredient or feed suppliers, including contact names and telephone numbers.
  2. Be aware that poultry, fish, and livestock offal are inherently contaminated with many types of bacteria and often a variety of viruses. Methods to reduce the risks include:
    • careful selection of product (e.g. meat versus offal)
    • minimizing thawing and refreezing
    • purchase from reliable suppliers
    • storage under controlled conditions
    • proper handling of product
    • feeding soon after grinding or mixing
    • rapid cooling or freezing
    • a proper sanitation program

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 the appropriate nutrient levels for mink with negligible biological, chemical, and physical contaminants.

Suggested best practices:

  1. When feed ingredients or complete feeds are received, routinely analyze for nutrient levels, using established protocols and standards.
  2. Routinely analyze feed ingredients and complete feed samples for bacterial contamination, using established protocols and standards.

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.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Use cooking, hydrolyzing, acidification, feed supplementation, and other treatments to reduce microbial pathogen activity and/or infectivity, and to increase available nutrients.
  2. Pay strict attention to the storage and handling of feed ingredients and feed to minimize the risk of the growth of bacteria, particularly Clostridium botulinum.

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.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Establish feed delivery procedures that minimize or prevent access to the CAZ and RAZ by feed delivery vehicles and drivers.
  2. Be aware and implement biosecurity measures to minimize the risks of moving feed between farms or premises, because it poses an added potential risk for microbial pathogen movement.
  3. Be aware that unconsumed feed poses a potential risk for microbial pathogen movement and should never be re-fed to other mink or animals. The unconsumed feed should be picked and scraped off the wire and placed in sealable containers and properly disposed of in accordance with federal, provincial, and municipal government regulations; this may include processes such as composting, burial or rendering.
  4. Protect feed ingredients and feed from contamination by pets and pests through appropriate storage and handling practices.
  5. Ensure feed storage coolers and freezers are well maintained, properly serviced, and routinely monitored to ensure that feed quality is not compromised.
  6. Routinely clean and disinfect feed preparation areas, mixers, grinders, feed delivery areas, delivery systems (e.g. feed carts), and miscellaneous equipment.
  7. Routinely clean and disinfect freezers and coolers.

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.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Monitor cooler temperature to maintain a temperature below 4°C (39.2°F).
  2. Monitor freezer temperature to maintain a temperature between −18°C (−0.4°F) to &minus23°C (−9.4°F).
  3. Avoid using feed storage areas to store farm dead mink, carcasses, or pelts.
  4. Ensure feed preparation and storage areas, and feed mixing and handling equipment are well maintained, cleaned, and disinfected routinely.
  5. Have farm personnel adhere to sanitation protocols to prevent contamination of feed ingredients and feed.
  6. Feed raw mixed feed that is to be refrigerated within 48 hours after mixing.

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.

  1. Good manufacturing practices are in place in all feed and feed ingredient storage and processing areas.
  2. The feed production area is considered a RAZ, and all biosecurity precautions entering and leaving a RAZ are followed.
  3. Feed ingredient and feed storage facilities are well-maintained and functional.
  4. Proper feed ingredient and feed-handling practices are in place, which include maintaining and sanitizing feed equipment.
  5. Proper timing of handling, storage, processing, and feeding of feed ingredients and mixed feed will reduce potential pathogen growth.
  6. A program to monitor the bacterial levels of feed ingredients and finished feed is in place in all feed production areas.
  7. 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 Bedding

3.6.1 Target Outcome

Bedding material is obtained and stored in a manner that minimizes contamination by microbial pathogens and chemical contaminants.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Source bedding from reputable suppliers. Bedding material should be clean, dry, and of a material that can readily absorb and release moisture. Some softwood shavings are a good bedding material for mink.
  2. Ensure bedding material is free of contaminants, including terpenes and other resins that are present in some coniferous tree wood, and chemicals used in the drying and preservation process for some lumber.
  3. Ensure straw or hay that is used as bedding is visibly free from mould and free of detectable odours.
  4. Store bedding in a dry enclosed facility away from the mink production area to prevent contamination, and to ensure it remains clean and dry. Keep bedding storage facility doors closed.
  5. Ensure that the bedding storage facility is pest proof. Pest control in bedding storage areas is necessary to prevent contamination with feces from rodents, raccoons, feral cats, and other wildlife.
  6. Store bedding material in the bedding storage facility only.

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.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Avoid using wet or contaminated bedding in the bedding storage facility for bedding mink.
  2. Ensure that staff members who handle the clean bedding material do so in a biosecure manner.
  3. Routinely, or as warranted, remove soiled or used bedding material from the nest boxes and replace with clean bedding.
  4. Routinely collect and remove to the waste storage area any soiled or used bedding material from the nest boxes.

Operational Management Key Points: Bedding

  1. Purchase bedding that is free from contaminants.
  2. Store bedding to ensure that it is kept clean and dry.
  3. Keep the bedding storage facility doors closed.
  4. Include the bedding storage facility in the farm pest-control program.
  5. Handle clean bedding material in a biosecure manner.
  6. Provide a healthy environment for mink by monitoring bedding condition, and adding or changing bedding routinely, or as required.
  7. 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. The purpose of the cleaning and disinfection process is to

  • reduce the amount or degree of microbial pathogen contamination on-farm,
  • inactivate the majority of pathogens that remain, and
  • reduce the infectivity of those pathogens that are not inactivated to a level that is insufficient to cause illness in the mink.

The sanitation process consists of five steps:

  1. dry cleaning – scraping, scrubbing, shovelling, and sweeping surfaces to remove accumulated organic material;
  2. wet cleaning – applying hot water and a detergent at low pressure, and scrubbing surfaces as necessary;
  3. drying – allowing the surfaces to dry before applying a disinfectant;
  4. disinfecting – the application of a suitable registered disinfectant, at the proper concentration, to clean surfaces for the required contact time; and
  5. weathering – rinsing disinfectant from surfaces (if required) and allowing surfaces to thoroughly dry before reusing equipment, pens, and sheds.

Suggested best practices for premises:

  1. Clean and disinfect mink sheds, pens, and nest boxes on a routine schedule, including at the end of the production cycle and after illness.
  2. Apply the five-step sanitation process when cleaning and disinfecting.
  3. Focus on the dry cleaning and wet cleaning processes – these are critical steps to ensuring the disinfection process is effective.
  4. Use detergents in the sanitation program to help remove biofilm. Biofilm is a thin layer of microbial pathogens containing organic material that adheres to pen floors, walls, nest boxes, and false bottoms, which helps protect bacteria and viruses from removal and disinfectant action.
  5. Wet clean, using low pressure and hot water of 200°F (93°C), the sheds or areas that have no mink, as well as the equipment used for care and handling. Ideally, the surfaces of materials and equipment can be cleaned and disinfected using a pressure washer and hot water.
  6. Use foaming applicators to permit a more visible application of cleaning agents. This application method helps to ensure that all surfaces are covered and may help increase contact time with surface materials. Foam action is usually short (10 – 30 minutes) and foam residue needs to be rinsed off before it dries.
  7. Allow surfaces to dry sufficiently, usually for 24 – 48 hours; the shed is now considered clean.
  8. Apply the disinfectant solution only to clean surfaces, as disinfectants are ineffective on organic material. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations on how to mix and apply the disinfectant solution.
  9. As disinfectants are surface disinfectants, apply the disinfectant solution to the point of water run-off and let shed dry.

Suggested best practices for the selection of disinfectants:

  1. Use a registered disinfectant that is appropriate for the microbial pathogens to be targeted. Registered disinfectants are products that have been evaluated by Health Canada and determined effective at inactivating the microbial pathogens listed on the manufacturer's label. Registered disinfectants can be identified by the drug identification number (DIN) on their label.
  2. Thoroughly remove organic material from the area, as disinfectants do not work on organic material.
  3. Ensure that disinfectant activity is compatible with soaps or detergents, harmless to building materials, and non-toxic to personnel and animals.
  4. Read and follow the disinfectant manufacturer's recommendations to ensure proper dilution rates and exposure times.
  5. Consult with your veterinarian to determine an appropriate disinfection program and disinfectant for your operation. There are various categories of disinfectants recommended: phenols, chlorine-based, iodine-based, quaternary ammoniums, aldehydes, peroxygen formulations, and alcohols.

Suggested best practices for buildings:

  1. Maintain and keep buildings clean, organized, and free of debris and unnecessary materials.

Suggested best practices for vehicles:

  1. Keep vehicles visibly clean, cleaning and disinfecting after handling high-risk materials and in the event of a disease risk.

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 mink and can require significant time and effort that can be reduced with proper facility and equipment design.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Ensure that buildings (i.e. feed kitchen, pelting, and bedding storage facilities) can be closed to prevent pests from entering; specifically, doors close tightly, are kept closed, and buildings have no openings where pests can enter.
  2. Direct rainwater, using rain gutters and a drainage system, away from the production units.
  3. Incorporate site preparation for all buildings and mink sheds that allows rain and water to drain away from the facility and mink housing areas.
  4. Ensure that there are no areas where water collects or puddles.
  5. Design sheds in a way that allows manure removal equipment to easily access and collect manure droppings.
  6. Maintain mink sheds, pens, security fences, and gates to prevent mink escaping from the shed or the farm.
  7. Keep mink shed doors and security fence gates closed to prevent incoming pests or mink escaping.
  8. Establish a designated sanitation area where vehicles and equipment can be efficiently cleaned and disinfected and where water, used in this area, can be contained or drained away from the production or traffic area.
  9. Design and construct new sheds to facilitate cleaning and disinfection – sufficient space, accessibility and the use of impervious surfaces that can withstand pressure washing are important features.

Operational Management Key Points: Premises & Sanitation

  1. Carry out cleaning and disinfection procedures when mink sheds and facilities are empty.
  2. Clean facilities first by removing visible organic material, and then use a cleaning solution to wash or foam/rinse remaining organic material and biofilm.
  3. Select a proper disinfectant for the problem pathogens that the farm has encountered, and use only on facilities that have been properly cleaned.
  4. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations in mixing and applying the disinfectant solution.
  5. Recognize that facility and site design should enhance the drainage of water away from the production area.
  6. 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.

Suggested best practices:

  1. 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. It is important to be proactive with pest control as regaining control of an identified pest problem can be difficult.

Suggested pest control program best practices:

  1. Pest exclusion methods – these are primarily management techniques and referred to as primary methods – which may include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • enclosed areas for feed delivery, feed preparation, feed ingredient storage, feed storage, and bedding storage;
    • covered bedding storage;
    • screened openings;
    • short grass and/or vegetation, or gravel strip outside building foundations to inhibit rodents;
    • proper disposal of unconsumed feed;
    • proper disposal methods for dead mink, mink carcasses, and other pelting waste; and
    • CAZ kept free of debris and long vegetation for potential use as pest habitat.
  2. Consider pesticides, traps, bait, and other such pest control methods as secondary methods.
  3. Always read pesticide labels carefully, using only as directed.
  4. Install and maintain a well-designed and constructed security fence to prevent the entry of rodents, other mink, livestock, pets, and wild animals.

Suggested best practices for rodent control:

  1. Monitor for signs of rodent activity (i.e. tracks, droppings, and holes) as part of the rodent control program. There is already a problem if rodents are visible.
  2. Evaluate facilities to identify sources of entry and food for rodents. Rats can squeeze through holes as small as 1.5 cm (0.6 in) and mice through openings of 0.6 cm (0.24 in) or less. Close off openings around augers, pipes, and wires where they enter structures. Mortar, masonry, or metal collars are effective options for this purpose.
  3. Use a gravel perimeter around enclosed sheds of at least 90 cm (35 in) wide.
  4. Keep grass and weeds trimmed around the sheds; it is recommended that grass never be allowed to grow taller than 20 cm (8 in).
  5. Clean up any spilled feed in feed preparation and shed areas as soon as possible.
  6. Place traps or bait stations along walls and edges in areas of rodent activity.
  7. Check traps and bait stations regularly, refill bait, and remove any dead rodents. Properly dispose of the rodents outside of your production area.
  8. Require that a written rodent control program include all of the steps taken to help reduce or eliminate the rodent population. Include a map of trap and bait station locations, types of baits and poisons being used, and frequency of inspection.
  9. If a pest control company is used, indicate the name and contact information, as well as the name(s) of the product(s) used. Pest control personnel should be licensed and provide evidence of such.

Suggested best practices for bird control:

  1. Physically separate birds from production and feed storage areas with wire, plastic, or nylon netting, and hardware cloth or other building materials. Holes in these materials should be no larger than 2 cm (0.8 in).
  2. Eliminate, or make less appealing, any roosting and nesting areas by cutting down trees near the shed areas, placing a wooden, plastic, or Plexiglas that covers over shed ledges at a 45° angle.
  3. Ensure that open feeders, bins, and carts are covered; immediately clean up spilled feed.
  4. Reduce access to water for birds.

Suggested best practices for fly control:

  1. Keep the premises and facilities clean and debris free. Fly reproduction areas include wet areas, wet bedding, manure, old bedding, and areas where feed has been spilled.
  2. Know that crusts on manure lagoons, if not agitated, provide breeding material for flies.
  3. Cover solid manure piles with a black tarp to prevent flies from getting to breeding material and to raise temperatures high enough to kill any fly eggs and larvae.
  4. Be aware that, even after death, female flies may still contain viable eggs, which may hatch.
  5. Contact an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) specialist, a pest control company, or an entomologist for more pest control information.

Operational Management Key Points: Sanitation and Pest Control

  1. Pests, dirty equipment, and vehicles can transmit disease and must be managed appropriately by sanitation and pest control programs.
  2. Poorly constructed and maintained buildings can provide access and refuge for pests, resulting in the accumulation of microbial pathogens and pests on-site.
  3. Use humane methods of pest exclusion by focusing first on making mink housing, feed, and bedding areas pest proof.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Suggested best practices:

  1. Make your biosecurity protocols available to farm staff and family.

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 mink health problem occurs with the producer or staff.

Farm personnel should record any deviations from the biosecurity procedures that occur on a Corrective Action Record as follows:

Sample: Corrective Action Record
Date Deviation Corrective Action Taken The Action Taken to Ensure That the Deviation Does Not Re-Occur Staff Signature Management Signature

Suggested best practices:

  1. Provide training on the biosecurity protocols for farm staff and family.
  2. Review the farm's written standard operating procedures for biosecurity with farm personnel.
  3. Monitor the implementation of biosecurity procedures, keep records, and note any deviations from the protocols.

Operational Management Key Points: Biosecurity Program and Training

  1. Recognize that management and staff are more likely to implement biosecurity when they understand its importance.
  2. Facilitate the learning and implementation of biosecurity for staff by developing written procedures for common tasks and ensuring the staff understands them.
  3. Provide biosecurity training for farm staff, family, service providers, and visitors.
  4. Keep a record of deviations that occur concerning the farm's biosecurity procedures.
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