Disinfection and cleaning of poultry farm

Prachurya Biswal1*, Dr P.K. Bharti2, Dr Mukesh Singh3, Snehasmita Panda4, Arun Somagond1

1*PhD Scholar, LPM Section, ICAR-IVRI, Izatnagar

2Scientist, LPM Section, MGIFRI, Motihari

3Principal Scientist, LPM Section, ICAR-IVRI, Izatnagar

4PhD Scholar, AGB Division, ICAR-IVRI, Izatnagar


Hygiene and sanitation play a major role in any effective disease control programme for poultry production premises. One of the important requirements to facilitate hygiene and sanitation is adoption of the ‘all-in/all-out’ method. Poultry premises and buildings should comply with requirements for isolation from the environment and strict observance of principles of hygiene and disease prevention. A poultry site must be prepared methodically for the entry of each new batch. Attention should be paid to the terminal sanitation of houses and equipment after depopulation. Particular care should be exercised in the performance of sanitary procedures after a disease outbreak. Immediate disposal of dead and diseased birds is an important and effective tool in preventing the dissemination of any disease. Regular visual inspection, together with routine testing by microbiological monitoring methods, is very effective in checking the efficacy of cleaning and disinfection.

Table 1: Survival of disease causing agents in the environment

Disease agentSurvival time
Avian influenzaDays to months
IBD (Gumboro)Months
Fowl CholeraWeeks
Coryza Technical UHours to days
Marek’s DiseaseMonths to years
Newcastle DiseaseDays to months
MycoplasmaHours to days
Salmonellosis (Pullorum)Weeks

Cleaning and Sanitation:

Effective cleaning and disinfection is an essential component of good hygiene and thus one of the key biosecurity measures for disease control. This should be carried out from time to time to reduce the build -up of pathogenic organisms and a disinfectant known to be effective against a large range of pathogens. Approved disinfectants like chlorine dioxide and peracetic acid for disinfection or sterilization may be used.

  • Farm equipment entering the farm, cleanliness of personnel on the farm, disposal of dead birds and poultry manure and sanitizing the drinking water should be paid attention.
  • The area around poultry sheds should be kept clean from vegetation, food waste, plastic bottles, glass bottles, tins or drums.
  • Water Testing should be done at regular intervals. Water purifier in each shed is required.
  • Air purifier in all sheds is recommended.
  • Testing of microbial load at different places is required.

Commonly used disinfectants

Disinfectants are the chemical compounds which are commercially sold and each has its own properties for specific applications. The various disinfectants are as follows:

  1. Cresols: They are derived from the distillation of petroleum. They are cheap and effective biocides when applied to soil or buildings. They cannot be used where there are live chickens, processed meat or eggs as they are going to be tainted by the chemical’s odour.
  2. Organic phenols which are recommended for use in hatcheries for equipment decontamination.
  3. Quaternary ammonium compounds also known as “QAT”. They are highly suitable to decontaminate equipment, housing, and in hatcheries on the condition that an anionic detergent is used before applying QAT.
  4. Chlorine compounds: They are mostly used in processing plants and to purify water on livestock farms. Hypochlorite is effective only when pH value range between 6.5 and 7.5 in organic matter free water and you need to expose it to inactive bacteria for 10-20 minutes.
  5. Formalin: It is a corrosive and carcinogenic compound that is recommended for fumigating eggs in cabinets designed for this purpose. However, there are special precautions to be followed by the applicator to avoid being exposed and injured.

General guidelines for disinfectant use

The instructions of the manufacturer should always be followed when using any disinfectants. This ensures economy, efficacy, and human and flock safety. Careful attention to mixing is important. Each disinfectant is the result of careful formulation; any addition of detergents, surfactants or insecticides to a disinfectant without the approval of the manufacturer could dangerously reduce the efficacy of one or more of the products contained in the mixture. Like all farm chemicals, disinfectants are often poisonous and invariably highly concentrated. They should be stored in closed containers, away from feed, feed additives, medication and out of the reach of children. When spraying or fumigating, appropriate protective clothing should be worn.

Cleaning and disinfection of poultry houses:

Housing cleaning is the most arduous phase of bio-security and it can be divided in two types. i) Complete or terminal house cleaning: This is practiced after removal of flock and the following points should be considered. After removing the flock, remove the left over feathers, droppings, litter etc. It should be then followed by complete disinfection of the shed. Firstly the house should be fumigated and then it should be subjected to an effective disinfection. Keep the shed empty for a minimum period of 10 days before arrival of new flock. Before introduction of new flock it should be ensured that there should be no extra moisture in litter, otherwise chances of fungal growth are more. ii) Partial/concurrent house cleaning: This type of cleaning is done while the birds remain inside the house. Thoroughly cleaning of the fans,lights etc. and it should be a regular feature. Sweeping the house, removal of the caked litter, provision of clean litter should be thrre. Regularly disinfecting the brooder guards, feeders, jugs, drinking water containers using iodophores and 5% sodium hypchlorite, sometimes other effective chemicals like sodium dodecyl sulphate, formalin and iodine compounds may also be used.

Dry cleaning

All removable equipment and fittings should be dismantled and removed from the building.

Dry cleaning (i.e. brushing, scraping, etc.) should be performed inside and outside the buildings, including storage and entry rooms, egg rooms, egg coolers, hallways and stairways. Fans and other air inlets should be cleaned from the outside. Inside the building, dust and other dirt on ceilings, light fixtures, beams, ledges, walls, cages, fan parts, air inlets, floors (especially in corners), pit ends and walkways should be brushed, swept, vacuumed, scraped and wiped.

Wet cleaning

Wet cleaning involves soaking, washing and rinsing. Detergents and other surfactants of alkaline pH (8.5-10) are often added to washing solutions to loosen debris and films and improve the penetration of cleaning agents.

Wash every surface in the building, especially window sills, ceiling trusses, wall sills and any surface where dirt and dust may accumulate. The washing solution can be either a neutral detergent (ph between 6 and 8) or an alkaline detergent (ph above 8). Alkaline substances vary in their strength with the strongest causing burns and internal injuries if swallowed. A mild alkali is baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and moderate alkalis include household ammonia, borax and trisodium phosphate. Strong alkalis include washing soda (sodium carbonate) and lye (caustic soda). Mix in hot water—160oF or hotter is best.

Fumigation of poultry house

Fumigation is a method of disinfection or destruction of harmful disease organisms in an environment by using fumigants. Fumigants are chemicals that are released into the atmosphere in the form of gas or fume. The purpose for fumigation is to destroy disease organisms that could infect chicks, poults or ducklings, especially transmissible diseases such as fowl typhoid, pullorum, epidemic tremor, infectious bronchitis and chronic respiratory disease (CRD). It is also important to fumigate brooding houses or pens especially previously used houses before they are stocked with new day old chicks or poults. Fumigating your brooding house or pen prior to brooding or stocking is beneficial and does a lot of good for the coming chicks or animals.

The steps involved are as follows:

  1. Take the internal dimension of the brooding house; i.e. the length, breadth, and height of the house.
  2. Close up every opening such as windows and vents with a polyethene material to prevent further air from coming in.
  3. Provide an unbreakable wide-mouth container such as an enamel or ceramic dish of fairly large size, able to accommodate the volume of formalin and more.
  4. Ensure the ambient temperature is about 24C and 75% relative humidity. Formaldehyde gas works best in a warm and humid environment.
  5. Weigh out the quantity of potassium permanganate (KMnO4) needed into the container. For single strength fumigation, the quantity needed is 20 g per 2.83 m3
  6. Measure the corresponding volume of formalin needed. The volume is usually double the weight of the potassium permanganate numerically. For example, for single strength fumigation, the volume of formalin needed is 4 cl.
  7. Gently add the formalin to the KMnO4(and not vice versa). Thereafter, lock up the brooding house.
  8. Leave the house locked for 1 week. After a week of locking up the house, open it and the windows and allow the residual gas to escape. Then reclose it up for the arrival of your chicks.

Isolation and quarantine of new birds:

Isolation and quarantine of new birds is necessary in a separate place and enclosure so that infectious agents which may be there in the newly introduced birds may be detected before introduction of these birds with other flocks. New birds should be kept separate from old stock for at least 21 days and they should be observed for any disease symptoms to develop and samples (blood, faecal, swabs) should be collected for thorough investigation before mixing to the already existing old stock. It should be ensured that shed houses birds of same age group, even if farm consists of birds of different age group. Pest proofing is recommended before restocking

Personnel hygiene:

  • Specific over all clothing for employees must be provided.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after entering the farm area. Washing of hands can be done with soap or detergents with contact time of 10 minutes.
  • Wear clean clothes while working with birds in the farm. The clothes should be washable with laundry detergent. Preferably for this purpose detergents or oxidizing agents Dirty clothes should be washed with detergent and hung out to dry in the sun.
  • Since disease in poultry can be transmitted easily through boots, therefore, boots should be used after cleaning and disinfection. The best approach would be disinfecting footwear before and after working with birds or keeping a separate pair of shoes to work around birds and changing into other shoes when leaving the premise.
  • When the care personnel needs to attend to chickens or other poultry (e.g. collecting eggs, feeding or watering, change of bedding or repair of fencing material), a change of clothes/ boots should be required.
  • Medical check up of all workers coming in contact with livestock and feed should be done


Complete sterilisation of a site is impossible under most practical farming conditions, but every possible measure which helps to reduce the challenge is worthwhile. Practical experiences show very clearly that the efficacy of and the benefit gained from, all procedures are determined by the planning, organisation and accurate performance of the various steps of the sanitation programme. It is essential that all those involved in poultry farming should understand the importance of all cleaning and disinfection procedures and should apply it for getting disease free production.

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