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Broiler turnaround: Time to reset health on the farm

Richard Turner MA VetMB MRCVS

The most obvious place to start thinking about microbiome management is the turnaround. When developing a turnaround schedule, we must get back-to-basics. Our recommendations are based around the products and combinations we believe are best suited to various microbial loads in a shed. The use of the correct product applied in the correct way is the foundation to good performance. The opportunity to clean the shed effectively at turnaround should not be missed. It should be properly controlled and assessed with audits and TVC swabs.

Preparation and choice of detergent is key

As a start to all programmes, you need to be sure that the detergent you use is heavy-duty, high foaming and cleans well. Disinfectants generally reduce the bacterial levels but do not make the surface sterile. Therefore, the better the preparation through the detergent used, the more effective the disinfectant.

Selecting a disinfectant

The choice of disinfectant is sometimes based on non-scientific reasoning. This includes price, ease of collection, ease of removal of empty drums and even, “I like the supplier”.  This is the one big opportunity to set the new crop up well and careful consideration is required for the system you use. Any disinfectant used by a farm should be Defra approved. Looking at the Defra trial work, the two standout products that are currently available are Interkokask and Intercid.

Interkokask and Intercid

  • Intercid is comprised of Glutaraldehyde and Formaldehyde which are particularly effective against Salmonella when used at the correct rate. Many ‘anti-coccidiosis’ disinfectants are Defra approved against poultry bacterial and viral pathogens; however, many have no Defra (or equivalent) approval specifically for coccidiosis.
  • Interkokask is one of the few approved anti-coccidiosis disinfectants. Always ensure any anticoccidial disinfectant has approval specifically for coccidiosis.

Balancing priorities

If a challenging microbial population of pathogens is left on the site, then all we are doing by not choosing well is increasing the risk to the farm’s future profit. Ultimately, there is always a balance between the time available, the cost of the programme and the financial return. After 38 years in practice, what is very clear is the better the cleanout, the better the subsequent performance. What is also clear is too many crops with shortcuts will take as long to recover as it took to get into the situation in the first place.

Broiler turnaround

A broiler farm has a relatively rapid turnaround but a higher stocking density than most layers and so the microbial load of a site and changing the microbiome at turnaround is even more important.

It is difficult to put an actual figure on the return on investment on a thorough clean out. However we must not forget that there are many bacteria and viruses which impact on gut health and bird performance that we cannot vaccinate against. That, coupled with reductions in antibiotic usage, and the need for a targeted clean out is imperative. With a good cleanout we have seen more rapid returns to normal production, whilst on farms where the cleanout is rushed, you can expect maybe 3-5 crops before a crop performance is back to normal.

The programmes


The Emergency Cleanout should only be used once a year and be followed, if possible, with a normal turnaround of at least 8 days. If there is some overlap your vet can devise site specific plans with extra applications of products if there is a need.

Whatever your system, the team at St David’s can devise and supply a targeted turnaround programme specific to your challenges.

Contact your vet or speak to our Field Services team on 01392 872932.

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