It can be a difficult, time-consuming, and even a dangerous task – but effective sanitization of poultry production barns is a critical step in maintaining a healthy environment for the next group of birds to inhabit the facility. Proper sanitization is achieved through the combination of chemistry and application methodology. And, it can take some degree of physical labor as well to address material build-up in trouble spots, such as feeding tray surroundings and some harder-to reach places.
The goal of a disinfection/sanitization program is to kill all present bacteria and viruses, as well as to prevent the recurrence of diseases from infectious material that might be shielded from disinfectants by built-up organic material. The process must also be effective against salmonella.
There are a variety of methods used in poultry barns ranging from application of caustic – and potentially dangerous – chemicals such as formaldehyde or bleach, to a variety of multistep cleaning and disinfecting solutions. Most follow a similar process. The barn is power-washed and allowed to dry. Then disinfectant is applied and allowed to perform its kill function. Finally, the barn is washed again to remove the corrosive or toxic residue from the disinfectant solutions.
Beyond the potential personnel hazards associated with formaldehyde or bleach, the runoff from these types of chemicals into the local environment and watershed can be troublesome. They do not break down easily and can cause damage to natural flora and fauna – well beyond the walls of the barn or property lines of a farm. In many states farm practices are being scrutinized for environmental impacts that could lead to tighter regulations and controls. Paying attention to runoff and adopting new practices may help to avert further scrutiny.
Recent advances in disinfectant efficacy and application are entering the agriculture market that can streamline the process and eliminate some of the environmental impacts often associated with sanitization on a large scale. As noted above, chemistry and application methodology are the two main pieces of an effective practice.
Products that combine detergent or soap with a powerful disinfectant can help maximize the efficacy of each application of chemicals. The soap works to loosen, soften, and penetrate organic loads allowing the disinfectant to get to any underlying bacteria, viruses, or spores. It can also penetrate calcium and iron deposits that can build up on equipment surfaces. The chemical action can also reduce or eliminate much of the manual scrubbing typically required to remove these deposits.
The soap and disinfectant serve complementary functions to attack the sometimes-multiple layers of biofilms which can build-up during a production cycle. These biofilms are often difficult to break down and can prevent the ability of some disinfectants to properly kill.
Another advantage of some newer products is the ability to apply them to wet surfaces. Eliminating the drying time after power washing a barn can reduce the entire sanitization process from days to hours.
An important factor for complete sanitization is the amount of contact time of the chemicals on a surface. Liquid disinfectants can quickly run off from vertical or sloped surfaces. This can result in partial kills and inconsistent performance throughout the facility. Products that are applied as a foam can have better adhesion properties and will stay on surfaces – including walls and ceilings – longer, thereby increasing penetration and improving the kill function. Furthermore, if a product employs a positively charged surfactant, it can take advantage of the molecular charge of material surfaces to improve adhesion and contact time.
One popular method for foam application is a multi-boom trailer which can spray the majority of a barn in far less time than when using traditional disinfection methods. And when equipped with electronic controls, the trailer can be operated by one person, which helps to reduce personnel expenses. Handheld foaming wands can be used together with the trailer to treat small areas or those not easily covered by the booms.
Developed for the U.S. government for rapid disinfection in hostile environments, Decon7 (D7) is one of the new clean and green chemical entrants into agricultural markets. When applied as a foam in poultry barns, complete kill is realized after as little as 10 minutes of contact time. Approximately eight hours after application, D7 decomposes into non potable water. It has no toxic runoff or residue and is does not have the corrosive properties of many older chemicals. D7 controls salmonella, dermatitis-causing clostridium spores, and other common threats. Decon7 also incorporates an insecticide effective on darkling beetles, mealworms, spiders, and other pests in poultry barns.
Newly developed clean and green chemicals and advanced foaming application systems are changing the methods for effective sanitization of commercial poultry barns. New practices combining better chemistry and application methods provide a two-pronged attack on maintaining biosecurity and animal welfare, thereby ensuring a healthy ecosystem at every stage of production, process, and delivery.