Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

“Catch 22”: Biosecurity awareness, interpretation and practice amongst poultry catchers

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Sarah O'Brien



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Campylobacter contamination of chicken on sale in the UK remains at high levels and has a substantial public health impact. This has prompted the application of many interventions in the supply chain, including enhanced biosecurity measures on-farm. Catching and thinning are acknowledged as threats to the maintenance of good biosecurity, yet the people employed to undertake this critical work (i.e. ‘catchers’) are a rarely studied group.This study uses a mixed methods approach to investigate catchers’ (n = 53) understanding of the biosecurity threats posed by the catching and thinning, and the barriers to good biosecurity practice. It interrogated the role of training in both the awareness and practice of good biosecurity. Awareness of lapses in biosecurity was assessed using a Watch-&-Click hazard awareness survey (n = 53). Qualitative interviews (n = 49 catchers, 5 farm managers) explored the understanding, experience and practice of catching and biosecurity.All of the catchers who took part in the Watch-&-Click study identified at least one of the biosecurity threats with 40% detecting all of the hazards. Those who had undergone training were significantly more likely to identify specific biosecurity threats and have a higher awareness score overall (48% compared to 9%, p = 0.03). Crucially, the individual and group interviews revealed the tensions between the high levels of biosecurity awareness evident from the survey and the reality of the routine practice of catching and thinning. Time pressures and a lack of equipment rather than a lack of knowledge appear a more fundamental cause of catcher-related biosecurity lapses. Our results reveal that catchers find themselves in a ‘catch-22′ situation in which mutually conflicting circumstances prevent simultaneous completion of their job and compliance with biosecurity standards. Hence, although education about, and enforcement of, biosecurity protocols has been recommended, our findings suggest that further reforms, including changing the context in which catching occurs by improving the equipment and other resources available to catchers and providing more time for biosecurity, will be essential for successful implementation of existing biosecurity protocols.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Millman C, Christley R, Rigby D, Dennis D, O'Brien SJ, Williams N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Preventive Veterinary Medicine

Year: 2017

Volume: 141

Pages: 22–32

Print publication date: 01/06/2017

Online publication date: 14/04/2017

Acceptance date: 11/04/2017

Date deposited: 13/08/2019

ISSN (print): 0167-5877

ISSN (electronic): 1873-1716

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2017.04.002

PubMed id: 28532990


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric