Fly Menace at Poultry Farms and Challenged Food Safety

Published on: 7/5/2016
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Food safety refers to “a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards.” Food safety has always been of prime concern among the food manufacturing world. Foodborne diseases might just be yet another aspect of food safety, but it’s undoubtedly the most important one which is why poultry meat or egg or their products manufacturers now a days have started working over this issue to ensure the security of these food products, which also includes an effective fly (eggs, larva, pupal stage or adults) management at the farm. Fly menace is a global challenge faced by the poultry farmers at a larger scale thereby not only challenging the food safety but also affecting their farm profits by huge margins. Billions of dollars are being wasted due to the harms caused by these flies at the farm level. They not only lead to unhygienic conditions but are also the cause behind a number of infectious diseases which aggravates the poor performance of the farm productivity and lead to food safety challenges.


Fly menace-food safety association

Safe food now-a-days is highly desired in food production industry globally. Poultry meat, eggs, and products derived from them are of utmost importance in maintaining the safe food chain. When we talk about food safety, special attention should be given to prevent contamination of poultry feed and the products made out of egg and meat with flies and the organisms for which it acts as a vector.


Food safety at present is such a challenge that the theme of this world health day was “food safety, from farm to plate (and everywhere in between)”. One of the major reasons which evoked this concern of food safety include the hazards caused by fly menace at the farms which not only lead to reduced production performance but also food safety challenges to the human population. Indiscriminate use of antimicrobials and chemicals to combat such challenges again increases the threat to food safety as these harmful chemicals will affect the birds directly as well as indirectly. Increased fly populations may create a public health nuisance around the farm which may result in poor local community relations and threat of disease outbreaks. House flies transmits more than 100 human and animal disease causing organisms, including protozoa, bacteria, viruses, rickettsia, fungi, and worms. House flies are considered intermediate hosts for tapeworms and may transmit ascarids to caged birds. Flies mechanically carry ascarid and other nematode eggs on their feet from manure to pens, feed, and water. Fly maggots ingest tapeworm and ascarid eggs from the poultry manure and retain them in the gut until maturity. In turn, infected flies are ingested by the feeding bird. The chemicals like organophosphates, Organochlorines, pyrethrins etc. when are used by the farmers to control the fly menace at a farm it does provide them a temporary solution but in return what the farmer gets, he is unaware of. These chemicals are creating the development of resistance in these flies towards these chemicals due to which either they are to be used at higher dose or there should be a continuous rotation of the insecticide used to prevent the development of resistance. When these chemicals are used, especially in increased doses, the chances of their residual effect in the poultry products also increases. Since last few years the global discussion on resistance and residual effects of harmful chemicals in the food items is going on and the control measures to check this food safety challenge until now is at its poorest stage.


Factors attracting flies at a farm

Flies get attracted towards a farm by a number of factors which mainly include mainly the poultry manure and wet feed. The manure moisture and ammonia make the environment favourable for the flies to attack along with breeding and feeding at the farm. The management of manure at the farm is a crucial practice for preventing the fly menace. Some foul smelling matter present at or around the farm may also be the reason of high fly population in the farm. In such cases the problem need a much high level of attention so as to control the surrounding environment as well. Moist organic matter inside the farm also attracts the different types of fly population. The contaminated waterers and feeders can also become source for the flies in the farm.


Ammonia production and fly menace

Ammonia generation in poultry farms results from the breakdown of nitrogen containing compounds in the poultry litter and when this production is in excess the amount of ammonia produced is also higher and certainly the higher ammonia is produced as a result of improper protein metabolism or poor hepatic functions. The poor protein metabolism leads to many adverse effects on the body of the birds and therefore a prompt care is required to check proper liver functions. Flies are attracted to the smell of compounds containing Ammonia, Nitrogen, and Amines which are produced in the farm and the flies can smell it from distance.


Control of fly menace at a poultry farm

Past / conventional approach:

In the past, fly control measures relied almost exclusively on harmful chemicals and pesticides to keep their populations below dangerous levels or nuisance thresholds. Since these thresholds are not well defined, control practices generally were carried out when the flies were observed in the poultry farms. To help prevent flies at a farm, very few farmers are also following integrated pest management (IPM) programs. IPM programs emphasize multiple control methods to prevent pests (which included flies as well), as opposed to a reliance on pesticides alone.


Extensive or improper use of pesticides results in the destruction of biological control agents and the development of pesticide resistance. It can also create harmful and illegal residues in meat and eggs, and can contaminate the environment. Destruction of biological control agents and pesticide resistance result in larger pest populations, increased pesticide use, and higher control costs. The major group of chemicals used are Organophosphates, Synthetic Pyrethroids, Substituted Melamine (Cyromazine), Botanical pyrethrins, Carbamates and Sodium Borate. These all are extremely harmful as far as food safety and resistance development is concerned.


Polyherbal approach: a natural, safe and effective solution

Due to continuous development of resistance and food safety concerns it has become the need of hour to have a safe, sustainable, natural and effective solution to this problem of fly menace. It not only involves the control of flies but also its different stages along with the reduction of causes that leads to the production of ammonia in the farm so as to have a two directional check to ensure the control over the genesis of the fly menace. A farm owner is always concerned about better profit margins and is always focussing for adapting better managemental practices but the society as a whole is much concerned for the food safety and the prime responsibility lies on the shoulders of the persons engaged in poultry production as well as those involved in the meat and egg industry.


To control the fly population at a farm we can go for its polyherbal control by using some polyherbal solutions at the farm. A polyherbal solution is a natural and safe fly repellent containing herbs like Cedrus deodara, Eucalyptus globulus, Pongamia glabra etc. These herbal ingredients are well known as a fly repellent, insecticide & larvicidal activity for maintaining poultry farms free from flies and its different stages.


Results of a trial* conducted at a farm showed that the efficacy of this product in repelling the flies from the farm was very good. It was found that the population of the housefly reduced significantly after 24 hours of application of keetguard, a herbal fly repellent.


Musca spp. Population reduction after first application

*Bharkad G. et. al. 2013.
#Different superscripts indicate that the values differ significantly in a row (P<0.01).


As the population of flies decreases in the farm the productivity of the bird’s increases as well as the birds are away from the nuisance created by these birds and the diseases which might have been there due to housefly transmission. The use of Superliv, a herbal hepatoprotectant and performance enhancer (Ayurvet limited) along with keetguard will lead to improved liver functions thereby further causing better performance by the birds as well as reduced ammonia production due to better protein utilisation will prevent the flies to attack the farm. The food safety is of utmost importance as far as human community is concerned and the decreased fly menace at a poultry farm will lead to decreased use of harmful chemicals. The control of the flies by natural products will prevent these chemicals to stay away from the poultry products used for human consumption.

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