Pig International PDF Print E-mail
Bruce A. Spielholz, Preserve International, 5595 Vicarage Walk, Alpharetta, Georgia 30005, USA.

Since there are so many commercially available disinfectants and 'sanitizers' making both substantiated and unsubstantiated claims, it is imperative that the user knows the difference between a disinfectant and a sanitizer. Without this knowledge you may be expecting results for which your chosen product may not be able to yield.

Challenging conditions

You must consider if the product, when used in challenging conditions, has the ability to provide disinfectant results (99.99% kill) or at best will simply lower the contamination load, which would then be accurately considered sanitizing.

When considering the conditions which are prominent in the swine industry, you may only be able to obtain sanitizing results due to the high levels of organic matter and hard water which will no doubt affect the disinfectants/sanitizers efficacy. This may or may not be satisfactory depending on each individual farms history of contamination.

According to Seymour Block's book Disinfection, Sterilization and Preservation, a disinfectant frees from infection, destroys disease germs or other harmful microorganisms, inactivates viruses, but usually will not kill bacterial spores.

A disinfectants efficacy is usually determined by how the disinfectant is used and in what conditions it is employed.

For example, if your chosen disinfectant has proven efficacy against a certain species of mould and has been tested in specified amounts of organic matter and/or hard water, you should not draw the conclusions that this product will automatically kill other species of moulds or that if you use higher levels of this disinfectant, you may be able to overcome higher levels of organic matter and/ or hard water than the products original proven efficacy. This is not the appropriate solution to the problem.

Sanitizers are products, which reduce contamination to safe levels as judged by public health requirements. Sanitizers will not yield disinfectant efficacy. A disinfectant's efficacy is assumed to destroy 99.99% of the microorganisms.

Key properties of an ideal field disinfectant are proven broad spectrum of activity, provides efficacy in challenging conditions such as high levels of organic matter and/or hard water (these challenging conditions are inherent to swine facilities), leaves no harmful residues or odors, readily soluble in all types of water and, preferably, are non-corrosive at use levels.

Due to the fact that an acidic environment will discourage microorganism growth, the non-corrosive characteristic of the disinfectant may have to be overlooked depending on the targeted microorganism and the conditions it may be used in.

The product should have excellent cleaning ability, which would indicate a superior surfactant (chemical which lowers surface tension) system.

This is important so that the active anti microbial has an opportunity to contact the part of the microorganism, which it can kill or inactivate.

The most successful swine disinfectant program takes into account three main points:


This part of the program should be strictly adhered to, as this is the main means of disease transmission.

No-one, including family, service personnel, sales persons, truck drivers or any other employees should be in your swine buildings unless their job takes them into the facility, in which case they have  been properly instructed regarding the biosecurity program.

Utilize fresh shoe dipping disinfecting solutions at each house entrance making sure to step into this solution upon entering and leaving the house.

Visit known problem or sick houses last and change boots and clothing when leaving the facilities. Do not visit other swine farms in which you may transfer disease either to or from another farm. Destroy dead pigs on your property by incineration or burial pits.

Vehicles should arrive and depart from one entrance. Any vehicle entering the facilities should proceed to its designated area only. Use a locked gate if possible.

Family owned pets should be kept in the home contained in fenced areas away from swine houses at all times.

Rodents, insects and wild birds should be eliminated with specified programs for each of these categories of vectors.


All swine should be housed. Keep only one age of pigs in a building wherever this is practical. If multi-age housing is necessary, make sure each age is housed in a totally separate room.

Visit young pigs before visiting older pigs. Older pigs have a more fully developed immune system, which should assist in lessening transmission of disease in these types of multi-age housing conditions. Personnel should stay in their assigned work areas and should not stray into other areas or work locations.


Remove leftover feed. Break down or reposition equipment which is hard to clean or will not drain easily. Use a sprinkler to soak manure bound areas. Loosened manure can be removed or worked into storage areas. Remove all pigs and feed from the building or room.

Remove, preferably by high pressure or high volume, soil and manure from floors, walls and surfaces of barns, pen stalls, chutes and other equipment and fixtures occupied or traversed by pigs.

Thoroughly clean and saturate all surfaces with a proven effective disinfectant solution. It is recommended that you use a low-pressure application when applying your disinfecting solution to insure the longest contact time enabling the disinfectant to have the greatest chance of success.

Wet mist fog with your disinfectant each of the enclosed areas in which the swine will be housed to lower exposure to high numbers of airborne moulds and bacteria.

This is especially important where baby pigs are concerned due to their undeveloped immune system. It is important to check with your disinfectant's manufacturer to make sure it is safe to use for this purpose.

Immerse equipment used in handling and restraining animals, forks, shovels and scrapers used for removing manure, in your disinfectant solution. Allow enough contact time for the disinfectant to be effective. Usually 10-15 minutes will be sufficient.

Thoroughly scrub feed troughs, automatic feeders and waterers with your disinfectant solution. Rinse with potable water before reuse. Ventilate buildings and other closed spaces. Do not house livestock or return equipment until the disinfectant treatment has been absorbed or dried.

When using your disinfectant it is important to be consistent. Use only the amount required for the desired results. Do not use less or more thinking that either you can save money by using less or get a more thorough effect by using more. These theories will get you in serious trouble.

The old type thinking with these theories has proven that by using less you are penny wise and pound foolish and by using more, 'if one part disinfectant works well then two parts disinfectant will work twice as well'. Because disinfectants  are cidal, thus designed to kill things, these theories do not apply to disinfectants. If you are not achieving the desired results with the product you are presently using, do not increase usage.

You would be wiser to change to another disinfectant, which can provide you with the desired results at the recommended dilutions. If you continue to use more of the disinfectant than is recommended, you chance leaving a toxic film residue.

Remember that disinfectants are pesticides and are meant to kill microorganisms. If you abuse the disinfectant, you may make sick or kill things you originally did not intend to. Metering equipment should be used wherever possible to ensure correct usage lessening the chances of toxicity.

When properly used disinfectants can become your greatest ally in your fight against disease and infection. They can improve the general health of the animals by reducing the stress associated with these infections.

Remember that you cannot vaccinate for every microorganism, which can affect your swine so it is essential that you initiate the most comprehensive disinfectant programme available.