by Gia Loc
HCM CITY (VNS)— Nguyen Toan Danh takes off his shoes, puts on a pair of slippers, and steps on a sterilised platform covered with disinfectant. It's a bio-safety practice that he learned about two years ago from the An Giang Province Animal Extension Centre.
"Doing this is important to prevent pathogenic bacteria on the farm and protect my chicken," he said.
To protect his chickens from disease and create a healthy environment in which to grow, each cage contains a thick lining of pro-biotic rice husks.
"No diseases, especially H5N1 avian flu, have broken out since I have carried out bio-safety measures," he said.
Located 300 to 400 metres from residential areas, his bio-safety farm breeds about 2,000 chickens. About 300 live in each cage in the Cho Moi District farm.
To treat waste in the cages, he sprinkles the floors with probiotic products mixed with rice bran and corn meal.
The pro-biotic liners help reduce poisonous gases and bad odours as well as kill pathogenic bacteria that could spread disease.
Danh said he also vaccinated the chickens against flu and other diseases common among poultry.
Although 80,000 chickens and ducks infected with avian flu have been culled this year nationwide, Danh's farm has been spared.
"Before 2011, my chickens were hit by avian flu, but not now," he said, adding that the farm has a fully enclosed barn and slatted floors.
"The cost for investment in a bio-safety chicken breeding farm is only VND25 million, and I reap a profit of 40 per cent," Danh said.
With the success of Danh's farm, at least 10 of 11 districts in the province have begun using bio-safety measures.
Dr Nguyen Van Bac, vice head of the HCM City representative office of the National Agriculture Extension Centre, said the province was one of several in the country that had no outbreaks of avian flu.
Bac said that nearly 600 households in another 11 provinces and the cities of Hai Phong and Ha Noi were carrying out bio-safety methods on farms.
The provinces include Long An, Tien Giang, Dong Thap, Kien Giang, Soc Trang, Ca Mau, Bac Lieu, Tra Vinh, Hai Duong, Hung Yen, Bac Ninh.
Bac said the bio-safety training programme was launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2011 and ended in 2013.
Under the programme, farmers were advised to vaccinate their chickens, he said. They also learned the importance of buying chicken with clear label of origins and chicken that had been properly quarantined.
Free-range poultry breeding, which can be less safe than more controlled methods, was also discouraged.
Bac said the bio-safety methods had helped increase profits for duck breeding farms in the provinces of An Giang, Tien Giang and Bac Ninh.
The average annual profit for farms with 400 parent ducks has risen to VND938-949 million. Compared to earlier breeds, profits for ducks raised under bio-safety have risen by at least 15 per cent.
In addition, chicken egg and duck farms in An Giang, Tra Vinh and Long An provinces have also been more productive.
Bac said the bio-safety farm was the most effective method for disease prevention, especially avian flu.
"However, not all farms are using this method because communication about bio-safety measures in the country has not been good," he said.
Nguyen Thi Xoan, deputy head of An Giang Province's Animal Extension Centre, said it was difficult to convince farmers to stop the traditional practice of free-range poultry breeding because the method was cheap and profits were plentiful.
More farmers need basic education about disease prevention and breeding practices, she said, adding that breeding facilities, animal-medicine companies and food production enterprises should work together to promote bio-safety farms. —VNS