Turkey Production at UMore Park.

2020-21 Rapid Ag: NPIP Biosecurity Audits: Comprehensive Success in Minnesota by 2020 and Beyond

May 1, 2019

Principal Leader

Abby Neu


Extension Educator – Poultry

The Problem

The University’s role in providing long-term outreach to prepare for future threats and develop novel approaches to an emerging threat is critical to our mission. Specifically, the newly established National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) Biosecurity Plan Audits are an integral proactive action for Minnesota poultry farms. University of Minnesota Extension has done a commendable job in launching outreach and education for the inaugural audits, though the need for more work is apparent. One of the critical issues facing the adoption of universal biosecurity as well as the communication of official materials from regulatory agencies to farmers is isolation. There is an increasing reliance on online communication with producers and some face significant barriers to quality internet access and computer or internet competency. These barriers are significant for some and non-existent for others. To address the requirement for universal biosecurity for poultry producers, there is a need to address the barriers impeding that goal and to understand the magnitude of the problem. We propose that to advise and serve rural producers, we must ascertain the reliability of communication strategies and find solutions to address those gaps.


After point source introductions of H5N2 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus in 2014- 2015, analysis and epidemiology indicated most cases were introduced by farm-to-farm spread (USDA APHIS VS, 2016). This evidence demands increased system and on-farm biosecurity to prevent or reduce future introductions. The industry chose to include basic biosecurity principles into the National Poultry Improvement Program (NPIP) as accepted minimum management practices (NPIP, 2017). A 14-Point Biosecurity Principles document including, a biennial audit, was proposed and passed by delegates at the 2016 NPIP Biennial Conference. The Official State Agency (OSA) overseeing NPIP programs in Minnesota is the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH). Acknowledging the need for producer education on new biosecurity principles, MBAH invited University of Minnesota Extension (UMN Ext.) to provide outreach for poultry premises in Minnesota. To ensure successful NPIP Biosecurity Audits, a training initiative was established to assist producers in learning how to develop site-specific biosecurity plans that can be sustained after the audit is complete.

Program design and distribution began in the last quarter of 2017. Official NPIP documents were consulted to provide practical explanations and examples relatable to producers. Three online platforms were used to deliver information: YouTube (video), Google Blogger (written blog) and Google Drive (accompanying resources, templates and tools) to further explain each biosecurity principle. To optimize engagement, information for one principle was released each week for 14 weeks through multiple outlets including MN Ext., MBAH and Minnesota’s commodity organizations. Six record keeping templates, 14 blog posts and 14 YouTube videos exploring aspects of the Biosecurity Principles were created and delivered, and continue to be managed. In March 2018, the collection of resources were merged into one online learning module (z.umn.edu/NPIP). It requires no login information and visitors can revisit as often as they need. Spanish translations were added to the module during summer 2018.

To date, all audited premises in Minnesota have successfully passed, although the OSA requested corrective actions from 92% (Neu et al., 2018). Noteworthy progress in outreach programs has already been made, and participation in the web-based education indicates Minnesota poultry producers value the resources as they prepare for their initial audit. However, the team has encountered significant barriers in communicating materials with some producers as a result of a variety of communication barriers. For examples, many poultry producers do not have reliable access to internet services (Fig. 1). We have also found that communicating effective biosecurity plan writing is not straightforward and understand that computer and internet competency is a great advantage in completing this task. The team feels there are more barriers that need to be identified and mitigated.

All initial NPIP audits need to be complete by August of 2020, with biennial audits thereafter for each poultry premises. Continued Extension programming provides the opportunity for each poultry producer to develop a sound and effective biosecurity plan and record keeping system for his or her farm. As the audit process matures, biennial audits will be less time-consuming for the site biosecurity coordinators and employees because the requirements of the biosecurity plan have become standard operating procedure. These plans not only protect the health of the on-site flock and human caretakers but also are for the good for the entire poultry industry in state and region. Further development and distribution of outreach materials for the NPIP Biosecurity Audits needs to continue to optimize effectiveness and ensure the success of remaining foundational NPIP Biosecurity Audits in Minnesota.

Goals and Objectives

The overall project goal is to evaluate the delivery pathways for educational materials, workshops, and assistance for poultry producers and allied industry but also for the delivery of Board of Animal Health or Official State Agent communications relative to writing and maintaining biosecurity plans.

  1. Evaluate the scope and nature of communication barriers
  2. Assess the communication barriers that exist around the development and maintenance of biosecurity plans
  3. Collect and analyze data on communication needs and preferences of Minnesota poultry farms to determine the direction of future outreach efforts and educational services


  • Neu, A.E., K. Lautenschlager, S. Voss, S. Noll, and D. Lauer. 2018. Preparing poultry producers to develop an effective biosecurity plan. Poult. Sci. E-Suppl. 1(97): 75.
  • NPIP. 2017. National Poultry Improvement Plan Program Standards, Standard E - Biosecurity Principles. http://poultryimprovement.org/documents/ProgramStandardsJanuary2017.pdf (accessed 8 November 2018).
  • USDA APHIS VS. 2016. Final Report of the 2014-2015 Outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in the United States.