Broiler Farm

  Food safety and animal health Risk Factors at broiler farms:



Hygiene / Pests Control



At broiler farms, hygiene should include hygiene barriers and changing clothes and foot ware.



Control of all types of vermin such as rats, mice, insects and wild birds should be carried out consequently and frequently at all farm types.



 "all in-all out"



At commercial broiler farms “all in- all out” production system is common. However during the production cycle sometimes flocks are thinned ones or twice one or two weeks befroe final depopulation. During thinning crates or containers are entering the house, as is loading equipment and the loading crew. This operation exposes the remaining chicks to possible contamination. Therefore the farmer has to pay extra attention to the hygiene of people and equipment entering the house. 



Organic farms are often small scale operations, so the need for presence of more ages or more flocks on site is more common than in traditional poultry farming.



" All in – all out" systems creates the possibility to remove litter from the farm at once, so contamination of successive flocks by remaining litter should be impossible.



Feed for broilers is normally pasteurized by pelleting, which favors the Salmonella control. Sometimes alternatives are added to the feed such as short chain or medium chain organic acids. 



Transport of feed to more than one farm on one day includes the danger of cross contamination between farms. Feed lorries should therefore clean their wheels before entering the next farm site. 



Poor storage of the purchased diets: not well closed silo’s, dirty silo’s, bad hygiene storage places, rodents, birds, bad humidity and temperature etc. Feed silos should be cleaned regularly, because of mould growth at the roof area. In case of Salmonella infection, the silos should additionally be disinfected 



Bad hygiene of the feed systems in the stable: feces in the pans and feed remains in the pans.




Water supply systems at a farm can purchase the water from either public supply systems or private wells. The public water supply is normally safe for use as long as the farm's infrastructure allows close system until at animal level. Private wells should be checked for their water quality at least 2 times per year including microbiological and chemical properties.

Closed nipple systems normally are less polluted than open drinkers. On the other hand open systems can easier be cleaned during the production rounds. When medication is applied through drinking water, nipple systems should be monitored closely for adverse effects like slime formation inside the tubes.



Except traditional cage housing systems, all others have to use some kind of bedding material e.g. straw or wood shavings etc.. During the production cycles monitoring of the quality of the bedding should be part of the managing practice. Wet spots should be avoided or removed, but too dry conditions may lead to a very dusty environment for the animals. 

Farm system

Roughly three farm systems are used for broilers: Cages are used for housing of chickens in groups, free run or deep litter where animals are running freely and free range where animals have access to the outside world. 


Equipment and tools should preferably stay in the house, and should be maintained and cleaned frequently.    


Often the hygiene standards at organic farms are under pressure, since the animals are allowed outside which opens the possibility for undesired guests to enter the house. Moreover the chickens can come in contact with infectious agents in the direct environment of the house.  Since drugs are only allowed occasionally, diseases must be avoided according to the prevention theory. Selection of animal species that are adapted to the environment is preferred above the use of medicines.

Other farm animals 


Smaller farms often have other animals such as pigs and cattle on site. Strict separation of species is needed, as is separation of equipment and people’s clothing. A certain logistic scheme can be of help: look after the poultry stock first, followed by the other species.



Veterinary support  


Vaccinations and application of drugs should preferably be carried out under veterinary control. Spread of vaccines amongst flocks of different ages should be avoided.

 Stocking of manure  


Manure should be removed from the farm immediately after final depopulation. When the farm does not apply "all in-all out", this removal is even more important.

In case manure is used several round, it  should be treated during absence of the birds. This treatment can be heat reatment by piling up for a certain time. This leads to increased temperatures (up to 60C) inside the pile, which kills undesired micro-organisms.Land application of manure in the direct environment of the broiler house should be avoided, or else under controlled conditions avoiding spread of dust.


In broiler farms thinning may cause stress, but other stressors are climatological conditions, feed quality etc..

Service teams


Loading crews in broiler farms, especially at thinning sometimes go from one farm to the next. They should be aware of cross contamination and strictly obey hygiene rules.