The term Bisecurity denotes for the farm all the hygiene provisions and practices designed not only to protect the animals against contamination by pathogenic agents, but also avoid the latter’s spreading from a farm if it is contaminated.

In duck breeding, Biosecurity measures are paramount for the animals’ health and food safety. These measures have been regulated in many European countries since the 2016 Influenza crisis.


Surroundings and buildings, the initial sanitary barriers

General organisation of a duck farm General organisation of a duck farm

The layout of the building and its immediate vicinity must be taken into account in preventing risks of contamination.

A biosecurity plan that can be consulted by everyone is compulsory on the farm. It comprises the following 3 activity zones: public, professional and breeding.

Each breeding zone has its own sanitary airlock. This is divided into 2 washable and disinfectable areas. The sanitary airlock must be equipped with a hot water washbasin, liquid soap, paper towels and waste bins.

The surroundings of the building must be clean and well maintained (grass cut, no waste stored along the walls) to avoid harbouring pests (rodents, insects). The entrances to the building have concrete slabs in front to facilitate disinfection.

In the event of an epizotic disease, spreading of quicklime (500g/m²) on the approaches to the buildings (protected boundaries) is recommended, particularly in front of the airlock, gates and in high traffic areas.

The essentials for achieving biosecurity of your building:

  • Setting up protected boundaries around the building, which can be visualised by signalling barriers and regularly disinfected;
  • Using a sanitary airlock;
  • Increasing the ease of decontamination of the traffic areas;
  • Restricting access to wild birds (nettting) and rodents (bait boxes).
Duck breeding barn (France)

Water: a “food” that should not be neglected

The drinking water intended for the animals is not subject to any legislation setting quality standards, unlike water for human consumption, which is required to fulfil potability criteria. The regulations solely stipulate that it should be of “adequate” quality, and to meet this requirement, a certain number of criteria are defined.

1. Bacteriological quality of the water

Although no established standard exists, it is recommended to test for the absence of microorganisms (total Coli, E. coli, streptococci, etc.) in 100 ml of water.

Contamination may already occur at the water catchment point, but also in the farm piping, particularly owing to the residual biofilm . In order to ascertain the bacteriological quality of the water, an analysis should be carried out (ideally at the airlock and at the end of the line). In the event of inadequate bacteriological quality, it is recommended that corrective measures be taken: checking the watertightness of the catchment point and implementing water disinfection (chlorine dioxide, hydrogen peroxide or chlorine).

2. Physical and chemical quality of the water

It is essential to be aware of the physical and chemical quality of the drinking water, as under certain circumstances, it may cause:

  • Unsuccessful disinfection of the water (e.g.: reduced efficacy of chlorination in alkaline or iron-rich water);
  • Failures of treatments administered via drinking water (e.g.: some antibiotics precipitate in hard and alkaline water);
  • Problems related to inadequate watering of the animals (associated with the development of biofilm or with clogging of the piping).

A physical and chemical analysis of the water should be carried out at least once every 2 years.

3. Cleaning and disinfection of the piping

Purging under pressure is essential during the cleaning operations to achieve a sufficient mechanical flushing effect in order to wash out the impurities removed from the piping walls by the cleaning products.

Water circuit with purge in duck breeding Water circuit with purge in duck breeding

The standard procedure for cleaning the inside of the pipes to remove as much biofilm as possible is as follows:

  • Filling the pipes with an alkaline solution, followed by a contact time of between 30 minutes and 1 hour;
  • Purging under pressure -> degreasing;
  • Filling of the pipes with a second acid solution, followed by the same contact time -> descaling, purging under pressure;
  • Disinfection by filling the pipes with a disinfectant solution;
  • Purging with clean water if necessary.

The circulator with continuous return to the tank device ensures that good water quality is maintained and that cleaning is carried out during the batch.

The essential Cleaning & Disinfection programme

1. Cleaning

The washing and scouring of certain parts of the building are the most tedious but above all the most important operations for properly carrying out a disinfection procedure.

Organic matter (droppings, etc.) inhibits the action of disinfectants. The success of disinfection is thus influenced by the thoroughness applied to the cleaning process..

It is highly recommended to dismantle the slatted floor when cleaning the building in order to clean it from all sides.

Only a clean surface can be disinfected.

Good disinfection is impossible without proper washing beforehand, which already achieves 70 to 80 % of the decontamination.
Washing and disinfection of the ventilation systems is also essential to avoid rapid and early recontamination of a batch of ducks.

2. Spray disinfection: 1st disinfection

This is the first disinfection operation after washing the building. It is usually carried out by spraying the previously cleaned surfaces. On no account should it be performed by thermal fogging or nebulisation on health and regulatory grounds.

There are risk factors in a badly performed spray disinfection:

  • Underdosing of the disinfectant;
  • Insufficient contact time;
  • Application to a contaminated surface.

3. Aerial disinfection: 2nd or final disinfection

Aerial disinfection, generally applied by thermal fogging, is recommended to reduce final contamination, before entry of the day-old ducklings, to that of the beginning of the depopulation period.

The equipment used for decontamination

The use of a foam gun makes it easier to apply the disinfectant, provided that a foaming product is used. When applied in foam form, the disinfectant is more effective. Indeed, the foam allows the product to achieve better adhesion to the surface, thereby increasing the contact time and therefore the efficacy of the decontamination.

Application of disinfectant in foam form

Safety first

For operator safety, protective measures are indispensable during operations involving Cleaning & Disinfection.

  • When using the high-pressure pump, an impervious suit, an anti-noise headset and waterproof boots should be worn.
  • When applying the products, more specific Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as chemical protection gloves, goggles, a suit impervious to chemicals (Type 4) and cartridge mask (ABEPK) are required. In case of doubt about the PPE to be worn, refer to section 8 of the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) of the chemical product used.

Advice to reduce the tediousness of Cleaning and Disinfection

  • When designing the building, prefer more easily washable materials: plastic and stainless steel rather than concrete, smooth rather than rough surfaces;
  • Keep surfaces in good condition, not worn or cracked, easily accessible and well lit;
  • Start the Cleaning & Disinfection protocol as soon as the ducks leave, before the surfaces dry;
  • Apply a detergent before scouring to facilitate dissolution of soiling;
  • Use a stationary washing pump with hose connection by clipping rather than screw fitting;
  • Use a high flow rate pump (28-30 l/min.) and work at low pressure;
  • During scouring, ventilate the room as thoroughly as possible;
  • Apply the products in foam form at the right dose to save time and water;
  • Use the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).