Interview of Dr Artur Żbikowski (WULS)

Artur Zbikowski
Artur Zbikowski

This month we host in our section “focus on a partner” Artur Żbikowski, from WULS. He will explain us his interest in the NetPoulSafe project and the key role of WULS to lead the collect of information.

Hello Artur, could you please explain us what your position is in WULS and what your concern with biosecurity is ?

My name is Artur Żbikowski, and I am an assistant (adjunct) professor at Warsaw University of Life Sciences (SGGW – WULS) and Head of the Division of Avian, Exotic Animals and Fish Diseases, Institute of Veterinary Medicine. I also work as a poultry veterinarian – specialist. In my Division, we teach veterinary medicine students and postgraduates in the field of avian diseases and we conduct researches focusing on avian epidemiology, improving production, performance, and quality of poultry, and providing veterinary support for poultry farms. For many years we collaborate with a wide net of national stakeholders in the poultry production chain. Currently, I am involved in various national projects such as AnReT (Antibiotic Reduction in Turkey Meat Production) and European Projects: COST-BETTER, and NetPoulSafe.

My concerns around biosafety are that the biosecurity practices are known by most stakeholders in Poland but compliance with biosecurity is still not optimum. Poultry producers must be aware of the importance of proper protection of farms against the transmission of biological agents by external visitors to their houses, including veterinarians and vaccination teams (“my farm – my fortress”). The education in the field of biosecurity of all the stakeholders and collaboration between them helps to create a good biosecurity plan individually for the farm and helps to create a work habit which is crucial for ensuring farm protection in the production chain.

Why were you interested to join the NetPoulSafe project?

Implementation of biosecurity on each poultry farm (as a part of the One Health concept) is a key to birds’ protection against HPAI, ND, Salmonella (and other pathogens) and maintaining high production and welfare. Recent outbreaks of HPAI in Poland have highlighted the sensitivity of the poultry sector to epidemics and the urgent need to significantly strengthen biosecurity practices and compliance. Increasing the education, awareness, and knowledge of the farmers as well as advisors and operators in this field is crucial. On the basis of our National AKIS, we assure a successful practical implementation of the NETPOULSAFE project and will contribute to the wide dissemination of project achievements.

Who are the members of your team involved, and what is their role?

In the frame of the Netpoulsafe project, I work closely with other STWG members from WULS: Piotr Szeleszczuk (professor), Monika Michalczuk (professor), Karol Pawlowski (DVM, PhD) and Krzysztof Adamczyk (DVM). Together we are involved in planning, contacting, building, and keeping active contact with our National AKIS network (including pilot farms) as well as the data collection, analysis of results, and future preparation and dissemination in the field of the outcomes from projects.

WULS  is WP2 leader, can you please explain what was your work about the collection of biosecurity practices and supporting measures, that was essential for the first phase of NetPoulSafe project ?

In Work Package 2 we collaborate with ANSES (Task Leader 1) and ENVT (Task Leader 3) and with the other Partners on the tasks focused on the collection and analysis of the application of the biosecurity practices and supporting measures. With the use of dedicated newly created questionnaires, we have collected data on the application of biosecurity practices and supporting measures from the field in Poland (opinions of interviewed Farmers, Advisors, and Operators) and from the national regulation and literature. Currently, we are working on the analysis and the synthesis of the data for supporting measures (successful and required) from all participating countries.

What are the next steps ?

Completing the analysis of the results will provide the current knowledge about the implementation of biosecurity practices in the participating countries in different poultry production systems. It helps to understand what are the supporting measures that are implemented locally to motivate farmers to effectively apply biosecurity practices. The results help to identify gaps and needs in biosecurity practices (and when possible supporting measures) which are used in the testing phase on the pilot farms (WP3) and communication and dissemination (WP4) of the project.

You are now working on the evaluation phase in polish farms. Can you tell us what supporting measure you are evaluating, how it is going, and what you expect from this?

We have selected biosecurity training – live workshop as a supporting measure for our pilot farms in Poland. During this training dedicated to pilot farm owners, farm managers, and advisors (broilers, layers, breeders, turkeys, hatcheries) we presented and discussed important topics such as external and internal biosecurity on poultry farms, biosecurity in hatcheries, law regulations for biosecurity and Biocheck.UGent® as a scoring system to evaluate the quality of on-farm biosecurity. We expect that on the basis of such training participants could better understand the importance of implementation of biosecurity measures and fine-tune it on their farms. Since in Poland the poultry vets (specialists) are the main advisors for poultry farms in the field of biosecurity we plan to prepare for this group the specific training in form of living labs.

What else do you wish to add?

I believe that the outcomes of the project (knowledge exchange platform, dissemination materials, etc.) help with the cross-fertilization of knowledge and sharing good practices which will answer urgent farmers need and foster the compliance of biosecurity measures in poultry production between countries. So far we are halfway through the project with many successes!


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