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

Caroline Millman, Rob Christley, Dan Rigby, Diana Dennis, Sarah J. O'Brien, Nicola Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


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.3

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-32
Number of pages11
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Early online date14 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


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