Canadian Poultry Magazine

Don’t Let Pests Foul Your Profits

By Zia Siddiqi   

Features Business & Policy Farm Business

Pests enter a facility seeking food, water and shelter

Pests enter a facility seeking food, water and shelter, and whether you
own a small-scale hatchery or a large broiler operation, your poultry
facility likely offers all three conditions.

Pests enter a facility seeking food, water and shelter, and whether you own a small-scale hatchery or a large broiler operation, your poultry facility likely offers all three conditions.  Droppings, spilled grain and feed, and water puddles provide sources of food and water within the facility, while wall crevices and ceiling panels provide ideal hiding spots.  Pests found in your facility may seem to just be a nuisance, but in reality, the diseases they can carry can harm your flock and your bottom line.

According to Statistics Canada, the value of the country’s poultry products totaled $2.6 billion in 2005.  With this large net worth,  losing eggs or fowl due to disease can harm reputations and dramatically narrow profit margins.


Avian flu undoubtedly presents a great threat to poultry, but several disease-carrying pests have also been known to have a detrimental affect on flocks.  Pests common to a poultry barn include houseflies, lice, mites, bed bugs, rodents and beetles.  These pests can reduce growth rates, decrease egg production and, in serious infestations, cause debilitation or death.  There are steps you can take, however, to minimize the chance that one of these incidents will occur at your facility.   

Pest management professionals utilize a method called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to control pests within a poultry facility.  IPM is different from traditional pest control methods because it emphasizes the use of non-chemical treatments.  IPM programs can be viewed as a seven-step cycle.

Integrated Pest Management
Step 1:  Inspection
Inspections are imperative to an IPM program.  By properly examining the areas conducive to pests, poultry producers can understand how they gain entry and how to control them.  The main areas of concern for a poultry facility are doorways, windows, roof and ceiling panels, and areas surrounding water containers, feed containers and food storage.  Pest management professionals should perform an initial search to locate problem areas and conduct weekly inspections of higher-traffic areas. 

Step 2:  Preventative action
After  thorough inspection, the next step is to take action in the areas where pest infestations are likely to occur.  If the inspection reveals that pests can easily enter the poultry barn via cracks in siding, sealing off holes in the base of the walls or roof can prevent entry.  Once pests are restricted from entering, you can also bolster sanitation and housekeeping to keep the area clear of potential food and water sources.

Step 3:  Identification
Each pest has different behaviors.  By identifying a pest and its species correctly, you can determine the necessary treatment with the least risk of harm to other organisms.  Some pests also present more serious threats to poultry than others.  A pest management professional with the appropriate training can correctly identify the pests entering your poultry barn and the threats they may pose.

Step 4:  Analysis
IPM involves analyzing why pests are attracted to the facility to prevent them from coming back.  For example, if the poultry barn is emitting a certain odor or you’re using a certain type of lighting, your facility could unknowingly be sending signals that pests are welcome. 

Step 5:  Treatment selection
After your pest management professional has properly identified the pests and analyzed why they are there, it’s time to apply treatment.  Often the “right” treatment in IPM is a combination of cultural (sanitation), biological (parasites), mechanical (exclusion) and chemical methods.  If chemical treatments are needed, it’s important to ask a certified professional who is knowledgeable about government regulations on their use.

Step 6:  Monitoring
Pest management is an ongoing process, and even though your pest specialist is likely inspecting on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, it’s important you and your employees stay on the lookout for emerging issues.  Some pest management providers will even provide training to teach your employees how to monitor pest “hot spots.”

Step 7:  Documentation
Monitoring and documentation go hand in hand in IPM.  By keeping track of trends, conditions and sanitation guidelines, your pest management professional can more accurately evaluate pest activity within the facility.  Detailed records are critical during an audit or if any problems arise. 

In order to create a more effective IPM program, the first step you should take is to call a certified pest management professional.  Forging a partnership with a reputable provider can help you create an IPM program specific the needs of your barn.    Remember, while these pests may seem to just be nuisances, they can carry serious diseases.  It’s important to take action early to protect your poultry—and your profits.

Dr. Zia Siddiqi is Quality Assurance Director for Orkin Canada.  A Board Certified Entomologist with more than 30 years in the industry, Dr. Siddiqi is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management.  For more information, email or visit

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