A full continuous disinfection programme, consisting of disinfection during cleanout of poultry houses prior to placement of chickens, disinfection of the drinking water and spray disinfection of the birds during production was evaluated in broilers under experimental condition as well as under field conditions. Under controlled conditions, the experimental design consisted of three groups, two of which were control groups. Each group comprised 300 chickens. In one of the control groups, no disinfection of the pens was undertaken prior to the placement of the chickens. In the other control group, disinfection of the pens prior to placement of the birds was carried out using a glutaraldehyde-based product. In the test group, disinfection prior to placement was done. The drinking water of these birds was treated continuously and the birds were sprayed with a non-toxic disinfectant during production.
Production parameters, such as growth rate, feed conversion ratio and feed consumption, of the birds in the three groups were monitored. In addition, all mortalities in the different groups were recorded and classified into diseases of an infectious nature, non-infectious nature and unknown category. Bacterial counts were also done on a weekly basis from the different pens. In this experiment, it was shown that the full continuous disinfection programme resulted in a lower number of mortalities caused by infectious agents as well as a reduction in the bacterial counts in the pens treated with the full continual disinfection programme. The full continuous disinfection programme was also tested on a commercial poultry farm in the
Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Two production houses of 3 500 birds were randomly selected as test houses for the full continuous disinfection programme. Another similar house, which received day-old chicks from the same batch as the other two houses, was selected as the control house; it received the routine disinfection procedure prior to placement of the chicks. During the course of this experiment, a severe outbreak of Newcastle disease was experienced on this farm. It was demonstrated that, in the face of this severe challenge, the full continuous disinfection programme controlled the spread of the disease in both the houses where it had been applied at a stage when in every other house (including the control house) on the farm birds were suffering very high mortalities.
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