A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Poultry Shed

March 13, 2023

If you’re a poultry farmer, you’ll know how important it is to keep your poultry shed clean and hygienic. There are so many diseases that can infect your birds, which could spell disaster for your business.

Bird flu is the one that makes the headlines, but even without that it’s a long list. Marek’s disease, mycoplasma, respiratory viruses, E.coli, mites and coccidiosis are all major threats, but probably the biggest danger after bird flu is salmonella.

Any of these could result in having to slaughter all your stock, or at best the abattoir might delay your place in the queue, to prevent cross-contamination. You’re fully aware of the need to decontaminate the poultry shed — but do you know exactly how to do that?

You have to follow a step-by-step guide to cleaning your poultry shed to make sure you get rid of all contamination. This means you need the right equipment and cleaning products, but most of all you need the right industrial vacuum cleaner.

Step-by-Step Guide to Key Target Areas

Before starting on cleaning your poultry shed, it’s important to take out anything that’s detachable. That includes, for example, all feeding and drinking equipment and internal fittings. At the same time, ensure that any electrical points in the shed are covered up.

Walls, Floors and Panels

It’s vital to get all dust and debris off the walls as contaminants can hide here, so blow down the ceiling and walls thoroughly, making sure your hose is empty first (read our story on the consequences of not doing so here). This leaves the floor, which will now have on it everything you’ve blown off, as well as the muck that’s accumulated there. Trying to brush it up would only do a partial job, so it’s best to use a powerful industrial vacuum cleaner — the Big Brute Popular, for instance, or the Big Brute Multi-Lift Wet & Dry.

Before wet cleaning, make sure all power to the poultry shed is switched off, then use a foaming lance to cover all surfaces with detergent — and make sure it’s long enough to reach the ceiling. After leaving it for the time specified by the manufacturer, wash the detergent away with a spray lance.

What you’ll be left with is surface water and wet muck — and that’s where the Big Brute Wet & Dry comes into its own. Vacuum the floor and all surfaces, and when they’re completely dry, apply disinfectant. Ideally, disinfect twice, first with a quick-kill product and then one with a residual action. Depending on which accreditation system you’re using, you’re like to need Defra-approved disinfectants.

Feed Equipment

Before cleaning feed equipment, tip any remaining feed into the feeder pans. Then elevate the lines and get as much residue out as possible — although this may not be easy at broiler sites.

Drinking Equipment

Drinking equipment should also be raised to be thoroughly mucked out. Then use disinfectant in the feeder lines, ideally one that can remove biofilm. This may be highly concentrated, so it’s vital to flush it all out of the system before the birds return.

Internal Fittings

Any removable internal fittings should be taken out of the shed before any cleaning’s done, but some fittings, such as nest boxes, may not be removable and will have to be cleaned inside. Wash and disinfect the fittings close to a drain, especially if they’re in the shed, and the Big Brute Wet & Dry will enable you to clean up any liquid that’s left.

Electrical Fittings

If your electrical fittings have covers, then wipe the covers down carefully with disinfectant. You should also open the covers and clean out any deposits left inside.


It’s easy for dust to gather on fans, and this can be a breeding-ground for bacteria such as salmonella. Clean all fans in the poultry shed thoroughly – the Big Brute’s Floor, Wall and Ceiling Kit can really help here reaching up into these tight gaps and then disinfect them.


Red mite can be a serious pest, so it’s a good idea to spray the shed with insecticide. The ideal time for this is immediately after the birds have left, when the mites are still active in the residual heat.

Check the Clean

When you’ve finished, check that your clean has been successful. There are several certification programmes, and these are useful as checklists, even if you’re not going to apply for certification.

Don’t Make These Mistakes

If you follow this step-by-step guide, you should end up with a clean, hygienic poultry shed — but there are common mistakes, which you’ll need to make sure you avoid.

  • Leave plenty of time to clean your shed. If you’re rushing to get it done to a tight schedule, it’s very easy to cut corners, and you could end up with an infection like salmonella.
  • Make sure you blow the walls down thoroughly. If you don’t, the residue could be difficult to remove, once the detergent has been applied.
  • If you fail to muck out thoroughly or leave wet litter on the floor, even washing and disinfecting can still leave organic material behind. Using a Big Brute Wet & Dry will ensure you get it all.
  • Dilution rates and contact times are specified for the detergent you use, and failing to follow them could make the cleaning less effective. Make sure you follow all manufacters’ directions.
  • Try not to disturb the chickens too much in the process. With the Big Brute’s long hose, you can leave it outside the sheds and just go in with the hose. It kept the noise down, so it won’t disturb the chickens too much.

Clean Your Poultry Shed with Big Brute

With spring on its way, it’s important to thoroughly clean and disinfect your poultry facilities after a long, hard winter. It isn’t easy to clean successfully, but the Big Brute Popular or the Big Brute Wet & Dry will make it simpler. Although Big Brutes are valuable in many industry sectors, they were first created with agriculture in mind to solve very practical problems – check out our article about other farm jobs where a Big Brute vacuum cleaner saves a lot of time.

Call us on 01223 882 222 to talk to our team for help and guidance on what industrial vacuum cleaners might best help ensure your poultry remain safe from infections.