Canadian Poultry Magazine

Ask the Vet: Enhanced biosecurity on broiler barns

By Tom Inglis   

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In a chicken industry that is minimizing the use of antibiotics, our ability to provide an optimal clean environment is paramount. This article will examine enhanced C&D methods after a disease outbreak on your farm and reinforce some of the basics.

One best practice is to wash and disinfect all boots, coveralls and equipment used for pushing out the barns. PHOTO CREDIT: Chicken Farmers of Canada

In a chicken industry that is minimizing the use of antibiotics, our ability to provide an optimal clean environment is paramount. This can be achieved through cleaning and disinfection (C&D) and strict biosecurity.

The Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC), within their on-farm food and safety program (OFFSAP), clearly outlines the procedural C&D steps to follow in-between healthy flocks.

The manual further elaborates on situations in which the broiler farm has encountered a viral disease challenge, such as infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT), and recommends that poultry producers thoroughly C&D the facility.


This article will examine enhanced C&D methods after a disease outbreak (viral or bacterial) on your farm and reinforce some of the basics.

Six primary areas are identified within an enhanced C&D process: pest control; removal of organic material/feed, washing; disinfection; fogging; and waterline management. All of these areas will play a role in helping the farm achieve a clean barn environment after a disease outbreak.

Rodent control  
As soon as the birds have been shipped, heightened pest control measures should be applied to help control rodents, beetles and flies. These are known pests within poultry facilities and can be important vectors for infectious disease.

Rodent control is a central part of a biosecurity program as they can be the source of contamination in feed, water and barn environments. When birds are shipped their food source (feed) is removed. This provides an excellent opportunity to increase the rodenticide pressure.

Rodents have a keen sense of smell so maintaining fresh bait in the traps will help keep it free of mould and moisture. Some additional baiting tips include: securing bait in stations; bait near high activity areas; and cover more areas with less quantity.

It is important to shuttle rodenticides to ensure the rodent population isn’t building up resistance and continually offer new products. Producers could also consider subcontracting rodent control.

Insect pressures
Darkling beetles serve as a constant pest for broiler farmers and can contribute significantly to disease transmission, increased feed conversions, and structural damage to barns.

Some of the diseases that darkling beetles are known to carry include infectious bursal disease, reovirus, avian influenza, Newcastle disease, Salmonella, campylobacter and E. coli.

Prompt treatment of the barn environment with a labelled insecticide is key to the success of controlling the darkling beetle population. Maintaining heat in the barn after the birds have been shipped and turning the lights off will keep beetles in the manure, allowing application of the insecticide along the edges of the barn (clear a three foot area along the walls).

When the barn cools and the lights are turned on the beetles will escape back into the walls, travelling over the insecticide. A second application on the floor and three feet up the walls is warranted after the barn is cleaned and before adding new bedding.

A common spot for beetles to hide is under the feed pans. It is recommended to spray under the pans as per the labelled insecticide after bedding has been added.

Managing the fly population within a facility is accomplished by using approved baits and sprays. Fogging the barn after the birds have been removed with an aerosol insecticide will help to eliminate adult flies.

Best management suggestions
Enhanced pest management is key after a disease challenge in a flock but it doesn’t negate the importance of a thorough clean and disinfect of the barn. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Remove all residual feed within the hoppers/feedlines/pans. Leftover feed can diminish the effectiveness of your pest control program. Remove all manure from the barns and store/spread the contaminated manure offsite and away from the farm. This is important as some litter can harbor viruses/bacteria and could potentially re-infect facilities.
  • A thorough blow down must be completed to successfully remove all the organic material, dust and feathers. This includes heaters, fan blades, light fixtures, louvers, vents, ceiling, feed pans, walls, floor and any other equipment in the barn.
  • Hot water wash all surfaces with a detergent. Apply the detergent at low pressure first and allow an adequate amount of time to soak. Pressure wash with hot water (not over 140°F) before the detergent dries on the surface. Surfaces to be washed include walls, fans, louvers, vents, drinkers and feeders. Wash all service rooms and mortality buckets. Be mindful of any exposed electrical devices as these might need to be hand washed.
  • Wash and disinfect all boots, coveralls and equipment used for pushing out the barns. Take careful attention to the inside of the tire wells on skid steers and loaders.
  • Disinfect, as per the label, all exposed surfaces in the barn once cleaned and dried. Allow a minimum of 10 minutes contact time. In the winter, when the temperature is cooler, increase the disinfectant contact time to a minimum of 20 minutes.
  • With cycles of repeated disease challenge, it is recommended to fog the barn with a disinfectant. This can be done with a hot fogging system or a cold fogging system. The old method of fumigating the barn with Formalin was also very effective. But because formaldehyde is extremely toxic and all safety precautions must be followed exactly, we do not recommend this practice.
  • Waterlines must be flushed and cleaned with a suitable product and protocol.

These steps are key for lowering the risk of the next flock being exposed to a similar disease challenge. Enhanced C&D takes a lot of elbow grease but has lasting implications on overall bird health.

Tom Inglis is managing partner and founder of Poultry Health Services, which provides diagnostic and flock health consulting for producers and allied industry. Please send questions for the Ask the Vet column to

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