How to disinfect the chicken coop

How to disinfect the chicken coop

With COVID-19, “biosecurity” has taken on a new meaning. We don't need hazmat suits to clean the chicken coop, but simple precautions like disinfecting the chicken coop regularly can go a long way towards keeping your chickens and your family healthy and safe.  

There are 4 simple steps to good chicken coop biosecurity:

  1. Prevent disease coming into the flock
  2. Protect yourself from diseases by practicing good hygiene (and disinfecting!)
  3. Keep your flock healthy
  4. Don’t spread disease to other chickens

You can read about these steps in our articles on  Chook Pen Biosecurity and Chicken Coop Hygiene.

Is a disinfectant necessary?

Chickens pick up diseases from each other and from the environment. Some of these diseases, such as salmonella and avian influenza, can also make humans sick. Using a disinfectant may seem extreme to some chicken keepers, but it goes a long way towards protecting the health of your family and your birds.

It is necessary to:

  1. Disinfect any equipment that is shared between chicken keepers, such as second-hand or borrowed items. This stops diseases being transferred between flocks.
  2. Disinfect any equipment used by sick birds, including feeders, drinkers and hospital cages.
  3. Disinfect the coop as part of the regular cleaning process to prevent disease spreading within the flock.
  4. Disinfect equipment that will come into contact with chicks, as their immune systems are not yet fully developed.

Using Virkon S in the chicken coop

Virkon S disinfectant is the choice of many veterinarians and poultry producers. It is safe for chickens and has no withholding period. Adding a quick disinfectant spray to your usual cleaning routine is all it takes to kill potential illnesses.

Virkon S is effective against:

  • 100 strains of virus, including Newcastle disease, Marek’s disease and various strains of avian influenza
  • 400 strains of bacteria, including salmonella and campylobacter
  • 60 yeasts and fungi, including those than often contribute to sour crop

How to use Virkon S disinfectant

  1. Clean all surfaces and equipment to be disinfected.
  2. Allow to dry completely.
  3. Mix Virkon S powder into water at the recommended dilution rate.
    • A 1:100 (1%) mixture is suitable for most chicken coop applications. Mix 10 grams of Virkon S powder per litre of water.
    • For cleaning feeders and waterers, use a 1:200 (0.5 %) mixture. Mix 5 grams of Virkon S powder per litre of water.
    • Put the mixture into a spray bottle or pressure sprayer.
  4. Spray the mixture onto clean, dry surfaces and equipment.
    • To disinfect surfaces, apply 300 ml of mixture per metre squared.
    • To disinfect waterer systems, clean the system and fill with Virkon S mixture. Sit in the header for 10 minutes, then flush through to the outlets and sit for 50 minutes. Rinse thoroughly before refilling.
  5. Allow to dry.

How to disinfect the chicken coop

Disinfecting the coop is easy. It is just one simple step in your normal cleaning routine:

  1. Remove and clean feeders and drinkers.
  2. Remove all bedding and droppings.
  3. Clean the coop thoroughly, including under any lose surfaces.
  4. When the coop is dry, spray with a 1:100 dilution of Virkon S disinfectant or similar and allow to dry.
  5. Replace bedding, feeders and drinkers.

Virkon S Disinfectant

FAQs

Is Virkon S safe for chickens?

Virkon S is safe for chickens, but our recommendation is to avoid direct contact. Put chickens out of the coop and remove any food or water before spraying. Allow to dry before replacing bedding and allowing access.

Disinfectant should never be sprayed directly onto animals and animals should not eat food or water contaminated with disinfectant. However, regulations allow the spraying of Virkon S in the presence of poultry.

Is there a withholding period?

There is no withholding period for meat or eggs from chickens that reside in an area treated with Virkon S.

Is Virkon S safe?

Like any other cleaning product or chemical, precautions should be taken when using Virkon S.

  • Store out of reach of children
  • Avoid contact with the skin and eyes
  • Do not inhale the powder or the disinfectant mixture
  • Do not ingest
  • Use PPE such as coveralls, boots, gloves, a mask and goggles when misting

If irritation or ingestion occur, contact the Poisons Information Hotline.

How often should I use Virkon S in the coop?

Disinfect your coop whenever you clean it.

Will using Virkon S cause superbugs?

According to the manufacturer, independent studies have shown that use of Virkon S is less likely to lead to resistance than other disinfectants. In fact, it helps prevent the formation of superbugs by reducing the need for antibiotic use!

Happy chicken keeping!

Rachael at Dine A Chook Australia

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