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Poultry Science: Agro/Bio-security

Section IV. Disease Basics

Cleaning and Disinfection Procedures for Poultry Facilities

Dr. Casey W. Ritz
Department of Poultry Science
The University of Georgia

The cleaning and disinfection of poultry houses, whether as a standard practice after every flock or a mandatory procedure after an infectious disease outbreak, h, as common components which are needful for success. Following disease conditions additional procedures are required to ensure that infectious organisms are not spread to other flocks. Following is a list of needful procedures, when followed in order, will prepare a poultry house for resumption of normal production activities.

  1. Depopulate the poultry house.
  2. Following removal of flock, close the house in order that nothing is removed.
  3. Spray the premises inside and outside with an adult fly knockdown product. Killing insects within the house helps prevent their dispersion to other susceptible premises and flocks, adjacent houses, or nearby residences.
  4. Treat the interior of the house and litter with an insecticide for litter beetles. It is best to treat the house immediately after the birds are removed and before the beetles migrate deep into the structure. Follow manufacturer label directions and precautions when applying any pesticide or chemical within the poultry house.
  5. Clean and disinfect the watering system. Use a cleaning solution recommended by the watering system manufacturer that is best suited for your given system. Chlorine is a commonly used water system sanitizer. A chlorine solution using 12 ounces of household bleach for each 128 gallons of water is commonly used. The solution should be pumped through the system and left to stand for several hours before thoroughly flushing.
  6. Clean out feeders and feed lines of old feed and discard on litter.
  7. Clean, disinfect, and sun-dry all removable equipment.
  8. Blow the dust out from electrical motors, outlets, etc. Cover fan motors, switch boxes, outlets and other electrical equipment that can be damaged during the wash down.
  9. Remove all litter, manure, feed, and feathers for disposal in a safe manner, preferably on the farm by either composting or burial. It is important to do a good job removing litter, manure, and dust from the house as these materials will only decrease the effectiveness of most disinfectants. Clean up spilled litter and debris from around the house and entry ways after the cleanout is complete.
  10. Completely wash down the entire house structure; ceiling, walls, curtains, fans and equipment with sanitizing detergent and high-pressure sprayer. For easier cleaning, apply the detergent solution and let the building soak for a couple of hours. Hot water aids in washing effectiveness. Rinse with water under pressure and repeat as needed until a “like new” clean is achieved. Wash the floor to remove remaining organic material.
  11. Make sure all organic debris has been removed during the cleaning process. Most disinfectants are readily inactivated by the presence of soaps or organic matter, making the disinfection process a waste of time and money unless a good job is done in the cleaning stage. YOU CANNOT DISINFECT DIRT.
  12. When possible, allow surfaces to dry prior to applying disinfectants. At minimum, let the building stand for a few hours to let excess water drain before applying the disinfectant.
  13. Apply appropriate disinfectant approved for poultry houses. Using one disinfectant for the floor and another for the walls and ceiling will treat the house more effectively. Cresylic acid and phenol-based compounds work well on dirt floors, while quaternary ammonia compounds can be effective on smooth walls and ceiling. Read and follow label directions to apply the compound safely and effectively. Allow the disinfectant to dry completely before proceeding. (Optional: reapply the disinfectant and allow it to dry a second time)
  14. Remove debris, spilled litter, etc, from around the outside of the house and spray disinfectant on the outside curtains, sills, fan shutters, etc. Disinfect all doorways, walks, and drive outs 15 feet from the house with a phenol or cresylic acid-based compound.
  15. Make sure to thoroughly disinfect areas outside the house that are coated with dust from the exhaust fans.
  16. All loaders, trucks, trailers, spreaders, tractors, hand tools, etc. should be thoroughly disinfected in the same manner used to disinfect the house.
  17. Air out the building thoroughly.
  18. Reinstall the disinfected equipment.
  19. Apply rodent control products.
  20. Reapply pesticide products if needed.
  21. It is beneficial to fallow or rest the house for two to three weeks before preparing to resume normal production activities.

Choosing a Disinfectant

  • Generally, disinfectants will reduce the risk of infectious disease and may enhance production of the subsequent flock. Disinfection of poultry houses compliments a health management program that includes an appropriate vaccination program and adequate biosecurity.
  • There is no one “best disinfectant”. The process and techniques of cleaning and disinfection are of primary importance. Disinfectants must be selected to meet specific farm and disease conditions.
  • Warm temperatures enhance disinfectant effectiveness. Best results can be obtained between 65 and 120 degrees F.
  • Dirt interferes with all disinfectants; less with some but strongly with most.
  • Exposure time is important. The more pathogens to be killed, the longer the exposure time needed.
  • All disinfectants can be harmful if applied incorrectly. They should be used sparingly and in the most effective manner. Safety precautions must be observed to minimize harmful effects to humans, animals, and the environment.


DPI Emergency Poultry Disease Manual

Jeffrey, Joan S. Sanitation-Disinfection Basics for Poultry Flocks. University of California at Davis Cooperative Extension publication.

Opitz, H.M., 1996. Disinfecting poultry houses requires attention to details. Poultry Digest, August issue, pp. 26-31.


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