Biosecurity and Cleaning on Breeder Farms: The First 29 Weeks

Posted by Jones-Hamilton Co. on Jun 15, 2021
Jones-Hamilton Co.

During brooding and conditioning (day 1 to 29 weeks), the goal of a breeder farm is to produce a healthy, uniform flock that is ready for reproduction. Meeting this goal requires an environment that allows producers to carefully control reproduction and keep birds healthy. This means carefully constructed and well-maintained barns that focus on biosecurity to keep out disease agents.

Poult in tray with contaminated material

While biosecurity is critical to all poultry operations, a failure to ensure all programs are followed and monitored at breeder farms could harm or compromise a flock at an early age and introduce challenges from which they may not recover.

For example, once a flock is infected with Salmonella, they will be positive throughout their life. While shedding may decrease at certain times, periods of stress can induce shedding to begin again. Breeder flocks that develop airsacculitis during conditioning due to poor air quality will not produce as many eggs and are likely to experience higher mortality in lay due to prolapses.

Careful construction and maintenance of breeder barns is required as it impacts the cleanliness of the environment and can also impact reproduction in a flock. Light controls the timing of reproduction in a breeder flock, so it’s critical to control light exposure. These solid-sided barns are built with light traps to control any light entering through the inlets or exhausts. Even small cracks of light at 20 weeks of age will cause some hens to start reproduction early.


  • Common sanitation mistakes that can lead to unwanted health challenges include a failure to:
    Implement programs as specified
  • Monitor, measure, and manage the expectations of a sanitation program
  • Check the concentration of the sanitizer being used to disinfect barns and the calibration of the equipment spraying it
  • Mix products without checking for interactions
  • Provide personnel with adequate time and resources to properly clean out barns between flocks
  • Educate and train personnel on the importance of and expectations of cleaning and disinfection measures
  • Provide cleaning personnel with appropriate shower in procedures and equipment to ensure compliance (ie. Showers should be clean and free of mold, and adequate supplies such as soap, shampoo, hot water, clean towels and clothing and footwear that is in good condition should be provided)


There are a number of key sanitation practices both during and between flocks that play a critical role in creating and maintaining a beneficial environment for birds.


The average downtime for breeder farms is 4 to 6 weeks. While this may seem like a long time, especially when compared to broiler farm downtime, there is much to be done during this period to prepare for the next flock. The process needs to be well organized and executed in a timely manner, and should include the cleaning and disinfecting of:

  • All barn surfaces and entry rooms
  • All equipment, feeders, drinkers and waterlines
  • Farm equipment storage areas and vehicles
  • Fans, screens and light traps
  • If weather permits, do at minimum a visual check of the interior of the bins to ensure feed is not caked onto the sides which will promote mold growth and possible mycotoxin contamination

Once areas have been cleaned and disinfected, they must be regarded as a biosecure area and appropriate measures should be taken to prevent recontamination. Biosecurity starts at this point, NOT when the birds are placed.

During flocks, rodent bait stations should be checked, cleaned and bait replaced, as needed. Fan and cool cell maintenance must also be addressed during this time to ensure they are functioning and able to meet the air quality and temperature control demands of the next flock. If cool cell pads are not cleaned, or if they have limited capacity due to scaling, performance will be sacrificed.


>> Download our checklist for more tips on what to do during the flock <<




While labor shortages have been in the news as of late, the agriculture industry has long struggled with finding the personnel necessary to complete these tasks without compromising results.

It’s also one reason companies are always looking for products and equipment which will make the job easier to get done, such as:

  • Combination products that only require one step, or help eliminate a step
  • Equipment and systems with less monitoring requirements
  • Automated monitoring equipment
  • Products that make cleaning faster and easier

The SWASH™ product line can help make cleaning faster and easier in a variety of areas on breeder barns:

  • Cool-cell pads
  • Ventilation Equipment: fans of all types, inlets, vent boxes, tunnel doors, and curtains
  • Light traps
  • Nests
  • Sidewalls and ceilings
  • Feed and water lines
  • Lighting systems and light bulbs

By creating a barrier that makes dust, dirt, and dander more difficult to adhere, SWASHDUST-REPEL and SWASHHOUSE speed up the cleaning process to make the most of the downtime. SWASHCOOL-CELL works to extend the life and maximize the efficiency of pads in evaporative cooling systems. In an era where cleaning personnel is difficult to find and tools to increase cleaning effectiveness and consistency are priceless, SWASH™ can be a valuable tool on breeder farms.

>> Download our checklist for more tips on what to do during the flock <<





SWASH™ is owned by Jones-Hamilton Co., a leading provider of science-backed solutions to the animal agriculture industry. Led by industry veterans who understand the challenges faced by producers, the SWASH™ team is dedicated to providing reliable, high-quality chemicals backed by dependable customer service and knowledgeable technical support. Our team knows that every penny matters and works continuously to ensure value, maximize efficacy, and enhance the bottom line.


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