Key Elements of Biosecurity in Poultry Hatcheries

Hygiene is an important aspect of hatchery design and management. Good hygiene is required for maximum hatching rates and chick quality. The protection from contamination of hatching eggs and day-old chicks or poults, particularly in the light of specific disease controls (e.g. those concerning Salmonella), is becoming increasingly relevant in the operation of hatcheries. Protection of the workforce from contamination is also becoming a more prominent concern.

There are mainly three elements in Biosecurity of Poultry Hatchery Farms :

  1. Cleaning
  2. Disinfection
  3. Fumigation
Elements of Biosecurity in Poultry Hatcheries


Effective cleaning and disinfection programmes are vital in a poultry hatchery. Washing is necessary prior to disinfection, as the presence of organic matter (e.g. soil, dust, feathers and litter) protects harmful organisms from the action of chemical disinfectants. In some instances, this organic matter will actually inactivate certain types of disinfectants.

The main areas which need special attention are

  1. Hatching Areas
  2. Chick boxing areas
  3. Equipments
  4. Incubators

Cleaning of floors, walls and equipment requires adequate and suitably located drainage for wastewater. Incubators must be cleaned after each transfer of eggs. This can be accomplished by scraping, vacuuming and mopping the floors, and wiping down wall areas and fan blades at the same time. Exterior surfaces require damp mopping at least once a week. The top surfaces of incubators should never be used for storage. Once yearly, each machine should be emptied and thoroughly cleaned.

Avoid moving or transferring chicks and cleaning hatchers at the same time in the same hatcher room. Cleaning should not begin until all chicks have been removed from the hatcher room. Proper cleaning of the empty hatchers is necessary, after each hatching, to avoid contamination. Machines may be swept or vacuumed to remove loose debris. The use of a foaming detergent will aid in the removal of stains from the interior walls of the hatchers. Performed properly, scrubbing, rinsing and disinfection will yield a clean machine.

The air compressor should be located in a clean, dust-free room, as this air is channelled to all areas of the hatchery through hoses and humidifiers. All equipment must be properly cleaned and disinfected. Certain equipment (e.g. fibre egg trays and boxes) cannot be cleaned with water under pressure. Plastic egg trays, wooden egg boxes and plastic chick containers can be cleaned easily with water and detergents and, if necessary, these pieces of equipment may be given final disinfection or fumigation.

Fumigation (Using Formaldehyde)

Requirements for proper fumigation

The following requirements must be met if the maximum germicidal activity is to be obtained from formaldehyde:

  • Temperature: the maximum effect is achieved in the temperature range of 24-38°C.
  • Humidity: This is essential for maximum effect, and a ‘wet bulb’ reading of 20°C or higher is recommended.
  • Time: the time required to kill the microorganisms depends on the temperature, the humidity and the concentration of formaldehyde.
  • Concentration: The use of Potassium permanganate to liberate formaldehyde gas is desirable, as this produces an instantaneous expulsion of gas, giving maximum concentration.

To produce the fumigant, potassium permanganate should be mixed with formalin in a ratio (w/v) of 2:3. When the correct ratio of formalin and potassium permanganate is used, a dry brown powder remains after the reaction is completed.

Application rate:

 An application rate of 53 ml formalin and 35 g potassium permanganate per m3 of space is recommended. These amounts are effective in fumigation for 20 min at the recommended temperature and humidity. To calculate the amounts of chemicals necessary, the internal dimensions (i.e. length x width x height) of the incubator, fumigation cabinet or fumigation room should be measured.

But with extensive research in the Biosecurity field, Narsipur Chemicals has developed a better solution with greater efficiency for Fumigation in Poultry Hatcheries.

Hot Plate Fumigation

Fumigation with Enciform RM (Polyoxymethylene compound 97% ± 1%)

Enciform RM is a white crystalline powder. Liberated in the form of formaldehyde gas, with heat under controlled condition, rapid conversion is assured, converting all Enciform-RM to the gaseous state, which quickly fills the area to be fumigated. This gas is pure and contains no contaminants.

Application Rate :

To fumigate the Incubators/Eggs/Hatcheries use 1 gm / 10 Cu. ft. or 1 gm per sq. ft. area. Doors, windows and another opening should be closed. Placed Enciform – RM on a metal plate. Switch on the hot plate and leave the room. Allow sufficient time for gas to be liberated. Retain the liberated gas for a reasonable time (best overnight) and then ventilate completely recommended rate of fumigation – 500 g in 30 mins.

This method is effective, provided that the temperature and humidity are at the recommended levels. The minimum temperature should be 24°C, with a wet bulb reading of at least 20°C.

Enciform RM is mainly used for :

  • Fumigation of Eggs
  • Fumigation of Hatchers
  • Fumigation of Eggs in Hatching Machines

Why Enciform RM is better than Formaldehyde & Potassium Permanganate?

Paraformaldehyde - Fumigation in Poultry Hatcheries


Ninety per cent of hatchery sanitation is dependent on the design of the premises, good management of the hatchery and of supply flocks, cleanliness and disinfection. The remaining 10% requires the additional hygienic measures provided by fumigation and disinfection. Disinfectants whether used as a solution, gas or aerosol, cannot compensate for faulty cleaning or for a hatchery that is inadequately designed to permit a thorough cleaning programme. Hygiene control in a hatchery is essentially a result of cleanliness complemented by disinfection.

Possible alternatives to Formaldehyde use in Poultry Hatchery

Chlorine Dioxide

Chlorine dioxide (CI02 ) is used in the poultry industry to clean poultry barns and hatchery equipment. The concentration of Chlorine is low and the chlorine vapours are trapped in the gas bubbles of the foam. This makes the product unpleasant to handle. CIO2 does not appear to have detrimental effects on the eggshell. This acts as a natural barrier to microbial penetration.

Phenolic compounds

Phenolic compounds are effective sanitising chemicals against bacteria and fungi. Efficacy against spores and viruses is highly dependent on the concentration of these products. Although (like chlorine-based chemicals) phenol-based sanitisers are relatively inexpensive, they are toxic to humans. Phenolic compounds are best used in the building in footbaths and as floor disinfectants.

Quaternary ammonium compounds

Products based on quaternary ammonium compounds are genuinely effective only against bacteria; action against fungi and viruses is highly dependent on the dilution, and these compounds have little or no effect on spores. Although these products are good detergents and are not toxic to man, they are relatively expensive.

Iodophors, Glutaraldehyde and Peracetic acid

Iodophors, glutaraldehyde and peracetic acid are all highly effective against bacteria, fungi, viruses and microbial spores. These are all relatively non-toxic products making them expensive for use in large-scale operations.

Conclusion :

Protecting poultry flocks from microorganism contamination is an extremely important component of the commercial poultry production environment. The introduction of a highly pathogenic, contagious disease organism into poultry flocks could result in serious economic consequences for producers. The effectiveness of a biosecurity program can be optimized by regional participation. While any level of biosecurity is helpful, if all poultry producers utilize the best management programs, the program as a whole will be more effective. Practising sound biosecurity procedures every day as part of the best management program will help reduce the possibility of contracting a disease and will reduce the spread of disease should an outbreak occur.


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