Poultry houses need regular and thorough cleaning and disinfecting, especially after the winter and at the end of each crop.

To clean and disinfect a poultry house, you should follow a systematic process, which involves dry and wet cleaning, washing down surfaces and, crucially, disinfecting the water supply, building and equipment.

Why is it essential to clean and disinfect?

Cleaning and disinfecting are critical steps to eliminate harmful viral bacteria, and disease-causing micro-organisms.

Diseases and infections cause direct losses to poultry farmers from dead birds, but they can also cause poor feed conversions and low weights. These also have a significant economic impact.

These diseases and infections include:

  • Salmonella enteritidis (SE)
  • Marek’s disease
  • Mycoplasma
  • Respiratory viruses
  • E coli
  • Mites

Salmonella enteritidis colonises the intestinal tract without leaving obvious signs of disease. It poses a particular risk to laying hens, since it can end up finding its way into the reproductive tract and ovary, to contaminate eggs.

Also, if you are considering introducing new birds, or replacing your flock, then decontamination is vital.

Reducing the risks of disease and infection, including SE, should therefore be a priority.

What are the stages of the cleaning process?

It is important to clean the poultry house thoroughly BEFORE you disinfect it.

Disinfectant cannot remove actual particles, and to be effective, it needs clean surfaces to work with.

The first stage is dry cleaning. This involves removing all birds and litter from the site.

This will help reduce any risk of recontamination, should there be any diseases or infections already present.

Sweep or blow loose dirt and dust off all surfaces, fixtures, cages and nest boxes onto the floor.

Scrape any stubborn matter such as manure from perches and roosts and other surfaces. You can add all this litter to your compost pile.

Once you have removed this dry dirt from all surfaces, ceilings and walls, you can then sweep the floor to remove it from the poultry house. Where necessary, scrape the floor rather than sweep it.

The next stage is wet cleaning. Use warm rather than cold water to penetrate organic matter effectively, and include a mild detergent.

Do this in three steps: soaking, washing and rinsing.

  • First, soak any heavily soiled areas using a low-pressure spray. Do this until any accumulated manure and dirt has softened for easy removal.
  • Next, wash all surfaces in the poultry house, including areas where dirt has gathered, such as window sills and roof trusses. You can use a high pressure sprayer for this, but also consider scrubbing areas manually with a hard brush to remove stubborn dirt.
  • Finally, it is important to rinse the surfaces once you have washed them. This will remove any harmful residues, ensuring the site is completely clean.

When using a detergent, consider the surface you are applying it to. An acid detergent will dissolve scale deposits such as calcium and magnesium or hard water deposits from metal equipment. These detergents can be inorganic or organic, such as vinegar or citric acid.

For other surfaces, use a pH neutral detergent, or a mild alkaline detergent. An example of a mild alkali is baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).

Alkaline substances can vary in strength, and stronger ones can cause burns or internal injuries if you swallow them.

Once you have completed the wet cleaning process, you must then dry the poultry house thoroughly, to prepare for disinfection.

Drying is crucial, since it enables better absorption of your disinfectant. Drying also helps remove micro-organisms.

Once you have a dry poultry house, this is a good opportunity to inspect it for any repairs it might need.

Complete these before you disinfect it.

What does disinfection involve?

Cleaning is only one part of the process. Without thorough disinfection, you cannot ensure the proper protection of your poultry.

As well as disinfecting surfaces, you should also flush out the water system with disinfectant.

Do this by first draining the system and washing away any dirty water. Clean out the tanks to remove any biofilm deposits, then refill it with clean water. Now add the disinfectant, following the recommended proportions and allow it to stand for the allotted time.

Then refill the tanks with clean water, and flush through before refilling again.

Next, disinfect all surfaces.

There are various ways of applying disinfectant, by sprays, aerosols or fumigation.

You can use a standard sprayer for this. Direct your spray at the apex of the poultry house roof, and pay attention to corners and cracks as you continue down the walls and then cover the flooring.

You should allow the poultry house to dry before replacing the equipment and adding fresh litter.

To disinfect the equipment, spray it following the manufacturer’s guidelines for mixing and dilution.

Which disinfectant should you use?

There are several disinfectants appropriate for these purposes.

They include phenolic compounds, iodine or iodophors, chlorine compounds and oxidising compounds.

Based on hydrogen peroxide, but without the use of silver or other heavy metals, Oxyl-Pro is a specialist disinfectant for use in agriculture and with livestock.

Oxyl-Pro Pollo is ideal for disinfecting drinking water systems, with 99.999 per cent effectiveness against Salmonella, E coli and Campylobacter. It has no smell, colour or taste.

Testing in hatcheries has shown that Oxyl-Pro can reduce mortality rates, help increase egg production and hatching and improve feed conversion ratios.

For more information about the Oxyl-Pro product range, please complete our contact form, call us on +44 1606 851 782, or email enquiries@oxylpro.com