Biosecurity serve to prevent or limit the introduction, circulation and persistence of contaminants (pathogens that cause diseases) in laying hen farms. The main risks of a disease’s spreading lie in the movements of individuals, vehicles and equipment items between farms and production units.

Main contamination factors
in laying hen breeding

Main contamination factors in laying hen breeding

Surroundings and buildings, the initial sanitary barriers

General organisation of a laying hen farm General organisation of a laying hen farm

The facility must be designed and protected so as to avoid insofar as possible introducing salmonellae and other pathogenic agents. Three activity zones are defined, access to which must be restricted. These are the public zone, the professional zone and the breeding zone.

A plan summarising these elements of information is available and can be consulted by anyone entering the laying hen farm.

What measures can be taken to guard against threats from outside?

  • Setting up protected boundaries around the building, which can be visualised by signalling barriers and require regular disinfection;
  • Using a sanitary airlock ;
  • Increasing the ease of decontamination of the traffic areas;
  • Protecting the equipment (storage shed within the protected boundaries) ;
  • Restricting access to vehicles and persons whose presence is not essential.

The building and its surroundings

The layout of the building and its vicinity must allow effective cleaning and disinfection operations, followed by a sufficient depopulation period to interrupt a possible contamination cycle.

The buildings and their surroundings must be regularly freed of rats. Insect control is essential. In this respect, it is also necessary to ensure that a record is kept of insecticide treatments and rat disinfestation operations.

The equipment, which is potentially a vector for salmonellae, must be stored in a dedicated room. It should be cleaned and disinfected before being introduced and/or used.

Concrete slab at the entrance to a laying barn (Algeria)

Water: a “food” that should not be neglected

The drinking water intended for the laying hens 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

Water table in poultry farming (France)

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.

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

After the laying hens have left, the cleaning, disinfection and depopulation operations are compulsory. Manure must be removed from the building before these operations are carried out. The tractors and other manure handling equipment must also be decontaminated afterwards.

The storage and spreading of the animal faeces and cleaning water must not constitute a source of contamination for the environment. 

The cleaning water must be discharged either into a pit or a waste water network.

Cleaning and disinfection of the breeding premises and their annexes, as well as the equipment, are carried out according to a written protocol, using an authorised disinfectant. This protocol must also take account of control of pests, particularly rodents, insects and unwanted mites. Finally, the surroundings must be decontaminated according to the procedures mentioned above.

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 & 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 hens 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).