Using social sciences to better understand biosecurity challenges in the egg industry

Marta Hernandez-Jover, Brian Furze, Vaughan Higgins, J-A.L.M.L. Toribio, Mini Singh

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Devolving biosecurity management has meant roles and responsibilities within biosecurity systems have undergone changes. Within the Australian egg industry, these changes occur within a context of industry structural change, as the free-range production sector expands. Little is known how these disruptions are impacting on biosecurity management for small-to-medium size producers across freerange, cage and barn production systems.
This study1 aims to understand the implication of this in terms of producer practices, focusing on behavioural changes required to strengthen producer engagement with biosecurity. Firstly, the study investigated institutional factors influencing biosecurity behaviour, through interviews with government agencies, animal health professionals and industry associations. Secondly, egg producers were interviewed, gathering information on technical knowledge and practices, understanding of devolved responsibilities and sources of technical information.
Findings suggest there is a mix of understanding and engagement with biosecurity among egg producers, with a general belief that shared responsibility is placing burdens on their production. Some producers have considerable experience in the sector, well-developed biosecurity management systems and make well-informed decisions. For others, biosecurity and flock health management tends to be more reactive and less of a priority. Producers across production systems report a complex regulatory environment within which they operate. Although this is seen as an industry reality, many are concerned about this complexity and how is impacting on their decision-making. Some producers,
highlight the difficulties in managing audit requirements (e.g. production and fire/building regulatory audits), whilst others would prefer to ‘fly under the radar’ to avoid regulations they see as impacting on both, time and profitability.
This research highlights multiple social, economic and historical factors influencing producer decision making on biosecurity and how these are occurring within policy and management contexts of devolved responsibilities. This information will be used for developing strategic, tactical and operational recommendations for improving biosecurity engagement within the industry.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2019
Event2019 Australian Biosecurity Symposium - Crowne Plaza Hotel, Gold Coast, Australia
Duration: 12 Jun 201913 Jun 2019 (program and proceedings NOTE - only abstracts published)


Conference2019 Australian Biosecurity Symposium
Abbreviated titleBiosecurity
CityGold Coast
Internet address


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