Broiler Turnaround: Resetting Farm Health

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One of the places to begin thinking about microbiome management, is turnaround, and going back to basics is key when developing a turnaround schedule. The chance to give the shed a thorough clean at turnaround shouldn’t be overlooked, and should be carried out in a controlled manner, with audits and TVC swabs. 

The suggested turnaround schedules that follow, focus on using the products and combinations that will best tackle the different microbial loads, that can be found in a shed. And fundamental to good performance, is using the correct product, in the right way.

Choosing and preparing detergent and disinfectant

The detergent you choose needs to be heavy-duty, and foams/cleans well – as this is the start of all cleaning programmes. This is important as generally, disinfectants reduce the levels of bacteria however don’t make a surface sterile, therefore the better prepared the surface is with detergent, the more effective the disinfectant will be.

In our experience, non-scientific factors can influence the choice of disinfectant including the price, how easy it collect, or convenient it is to dispose of the empty drums. Disinfectant should be Defra approved, and as this can provide a big opportunity to set the next crop up well, careful consideration should be given to the one to use, that also correct for the system in use too. Defra trial work suggests there are two disinfectants that stand out – Interkokask and Intercid.

  • Intercid consists of Glutaraldehyde and Formaldehyde that are known to be particularly effective against Salmonella (at the right dose rate).
  • Many ‘anti-coccidiosis’ disinfectants are Defra approved against poultry bacterial and viral pathogens; however, many have no Defra (or equivalent) approval specifically for coccidiosis. Interkokask is one of the few approved anti-coccidiosis disinfectants. Always ensure any anticoccidial disinfectant has approval specifically for coccidiosis.

Litter beetles are an important reservoir of disease. No matter how well a shed is cleaned and disinfected, if litter beetles survive, then they will carry many diseases for more that two weeks. For most farms a two-week turnaround is neither possible nor financially viable. Beetle traps are an excellent way of monitoring beetle numbers and there are many insecticidal products available such a…

Water Lines

Water lines need to be emptied and flushed using either Aqua-clean, if the pump system can be set to at least 3%, or Huwa-San if only 1% dosing is possible. The drinker line should be emptied onto the cleaned floor and then left empty until the day prior to fill. If there is a plan to keep water in the line, then after cleaning the shed the line needs to be disinfected again. Even if there is an in-crop water sanitising system in place we would also recommend the use of one of these products. We have tested them compared to others on the market and consider them to be superior.

A fully automated Chlorine Dioxide system from Herd Concepts, for example, is the best on the market but comes at a high capital cost however the payback is very low chemical costs compared to Hydrogen Peroxide. The type of system you use needs careful consideration, and a site survey is the first step to defining a water hygiene plan.


Using a terminal application of formalin has been used successfully for decades and is cheap. Yet, as we all know it has major health issues and so we have moved to hot fogging with Halamid as an alternative option to our clients and it has proven very effective. This is a service we can provide and supply the chemicals for, as well as working with your cleaning company to offer this.

Balancing Priorities

If, after cleanout, there remains a challenging microbial population of pathogens on site, we are increasing the risk to a farm’s future profit. Of course, there will always be a balance between the time available, the cost of a cleanout programme and the financial return however, what is clear is that the more thorough it is, the better the next crop’s performance is.

Broiler Turnaround

When compared to layer farms, broiler sites have a relatively rapid turnaround and higher stocking density in the sheds. This means that the microbial load of the site and changing the microbiome at turnaround is even more important. While putting a financial figure to the return on investment of a thorough cleanout is difficult, it’s important to remember that there are many bacteria and viruses that have an impact on gut health and bird performance, that cannot be vaccinated against. Combine that with the drive to reduce antibiotic use, and need for a targeted, thorough cleanout can be in no doubt.

In our experience, where good cleanout occurs, there is a more rapid return to normal production. Where sites rush or there isn’t a cleanout, can expect maybe three-five crops before performance is back to normal.

The Broiler Turnaround Programmes

Normal Cleanout

Coccidiosis Cleanout

Following a good crop, at least 8 days to clear site, no recorded disease issues.

Following a coccidia challenged crop, 8 days to clear site and no other disease.

  • Remove litter and clean water lines
  • Wash all surfaces with Alkaliene detergent
  • Allow to dry, then apply Intercid
  • Ensure all plastic drinker cups are well washed and disinfectant applied
  • Ensure drinker lines and cups are clean after litter down
  • If time allows, consider fogging with Halamid at 10% once the litter is in.
  • Remove litter and clean water lines
  • Wash all surfaces with Alkaliene detergent
  • Allow to dry, then apply Intercid to high surfaces
  • Allow to dry, then apply Interkokask to low walls, posts, floors, drinker cups and plastic feeders. Keep wet for the recommended time
  • If possible, and insurance agreed, carry out floor burning
  • Ensure drinker lines and cups are clean after litter down
  • If time allows, consider fogging with Halamid at 10% .

Enhanced Cleanout

Emergency Cleanout

Following, for example, a poor result, maybe a high bacterial or viral challenge.

Following a normal crop but due to issues there is not enough time to wash. Use only once.

  • Remove litter and clean water lines
  • Wash all surfaces with Alkaliene detergent
  • Allow to dry, then apply Intercid to all surfaces
  • Allow to dry, then apply Interkokask to all surfaces and ensure wet for the correct time
  • Ensure drinker lines and cups are clean after litter down
  • Hot fog with Halamid at 10% before litter is down.
  • Remove litter and clean water lines
  • Blow down all dust as far as possible
  • Apply lime plus Halamid at a dose rate of 50 parts lime to 1 part Halamid and if possible apply with a floor brusher to the floors
  • Mist the house with Intercid at 2% after litter down
  • If possible, heat house to as high as sensibly possible ensuring that post-heating, it is possible to reduce the house and floor temperatures to the correct level for brooding.

To Note

The Emergency Cleanout should only be used once a year and be followed, if possible, with a normal turnaround of at least eight days. If there is some overlap, your vet can devise site specific plans with extra applications of products if there is a need.

Whatever your system, the team at St David’s can devise and supply a targeted turnaround programme specific to your needs.

Contact your vet or speak to our Field Services team on +353 (0)69 61033

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