Chicken & Egg Issue 11 - page 45

Richard Jackson BVMS (Hons) MRCVS
As the saying goes ‘cleanliness is next to
Godliness’, and when it comes to your
chickens, coop hygiene is key. All animals
and people can withstand being exposed
to low levels of most bacteria and viruses
but when exposed to high levels of a given
disease our bodies are more likely to be
overwhelmed and succumb to infection.
The levels of challenge are particularly
important when it comes to Marek’s
disease and Salmonella infection, as both
require high levels of exposure to cause
infection. We will never destroy all ‘bugs’ in
our coops but we can certainly reduce
them through regular thorough cleaning
and disinfecting.
The frequency of cleaning depends on:
As a general rule the droppings from under
the perch should be removed weekly and
the shed cleaned and disinfected every 1-
3 months depending upon the above
factors. If you have a red mite issue then
cleaning and treatment of the coop for
red mites may be required as often as
every two weeks!
Irrespective of which disinfectant is used,
the following steps should be carefully
Cleaning and disinfecting your chicken coop
The numbers of hens present, more
hens means more mess!
The age of your birds - young chicks
and older birds are more vulnerable to
The disease history of the holding; if
you’ve had an issue with respiratory
disease, coccidiosis, Salmonella or
Marek’s disease then cleaning and
disinfecting will need to be carried out
more often
Weather conditions – during wet
weather the coop will become dirty
more quickly and more frequent
cleaning needed with all the muddy
feet entering!
Remove all the bedding and droppings
from the shed
Use a detergent to remove any dirt and
grease from the shed, as most
disinfectants will be inactivated by
organic matter (aka droppings).
Therefore any dirt, grease or dust left
behind on surfaces can render
disinfectants ineffective. This is why we
wash our dishes with washing up liquid
rather than disinfectant. Bacteria are
killed by the cleaning and drying
process as well as by the disinfectant.
Poultry Shield
is a safe and effective
cleaning agent and has the added
benefit of destroying red mite.
Let the shed dry; putting disinfectant
onto a damp surface dilutes it further,
thus making it weaker than the
recommended dose, losing power to kill
the target bacteria and viruses.
Next dilute your chosen disinfectant to
the level recommended on the
container. This is the level to which tests
have been carried out to prove that
the target bacteria will be successfully
Apply the disinfectant in a hand sprayer
or mixed in a bucket and applied with a
brush. The spray needs to wet the surface
and then be left to dry or leave on for
the stated contact time. This is essential
when using anti-coccidial disinfectants
such as
must remain in contact with the surface
for at least 4 hours.
Leave to dry before putting in fresh litter
and returning the birds.
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