The Start Clean – Stay Clean™ program requires that egg farmers have 7 days downtime between flocks.  This time is to be used to clean and disinfect the barn, so that new flocks are introduced to a clean facility, free of bacteria or pathogens that may have been present in the previous flock.  This article reviews the steps for cleaning and disinfection to make the most of those 7 days.

There are 4 steps of cleaning and disinfection. To be effective, each step must be completed well and in the correct order.

Step 1: Dry Cleaning

This step involves removing organic material from the barn.  Manure, feed and dust provide the perfect environment for bacteria and viruses to live and cannot be properly disinfected, so ensuring the barn is completely clean of organic material is critical for a clean barn.  During this stage all feeders and bins should be emptied, all manure and litter removed from the barn, steps should be taken to eliminate pests such as beetles, flies and rodents, and the water system should be flushed and disinfected.

Step 2: Washing

The goal of washing is to remove any remaining organic material that was not removed during step 1.  When done correctly, washing can remove 90 to 99% of pathogens in the barn.

Cleaning will take less time and be more effective if surfaces are pre-soaked with warm water and detergent before pressure washing.  Soaking will help break down organic matter and biofilms, where bacteria like Salmonella can be harbored.

To make the most of your investment of time and money, be sure to choose a detergent that is compatible with your disinfectant, and with the type of water on farm.

When it’s time to wash, use a pressure washer with enough pressure to remove the organic materials from the barn and equipment.  Using hot water that is at least 90 degrees Celsius will help to remove those stuck on biofilms.

Step 3: Disinfect

Prepare the barn for disinfecting by making sure that all organic material has been removed from the barn; disinfectant won’t work on organic material.  Also ensure the majority of water from washing is drained away, as it can dilute the disinfectant.  The temperature of the barn is important, since all disinfectants work better at a temperature above 18 degrees Celsius.

Choose a disinfectant to fit your situation and needs.  Be very careful to follow the directions on the disinfectant so that the right concentration is used and left on for the correct contact time.  Be sure to give the disinfectant sufficient time to work.  Most disinfectants need at least 10 minutes of contact time to work (20 – 30 minutes is better).  Once the required contact time has passed, rinse the barn and equipment down thoroughly with clean water.

Step 4: Drying Time

Drying time is a very important step in the cleaning and disinfection process.  In fact, if the building is not dried properly, the excess moisture can result in bacteria multiplying to higher levels than seen before cleaning!  No one wants their hard work to go to waste, so be sure to leave enough time for the facility to dry thoroughly.  Research in the poultry industry has shown that a 48 hour drying time can dramatically reduce contamination compared to 24 hours.

A detailed guide for Cleaning and Disinfecting, which includes information on how to choose the right type disinfectant, is available on the producer website: