Published: 2022-04-20

The objective of washing and disinfecting is to keep the level of infection low and to give the pigs the best possible welfare and growth conditions. Infection levels can be reduced in the herd by including hygiene in the daily routines, and systematic cleaning and disinfection of pens before penning/transfer of animals. Our experience shows that strictly following a plan for cleaning, disinfection and drying out pens is key when phasing out medical zinc oxide.

Soap and disinfection

The bacteria form a biofilm on surfaces in order to protect themselves. The film consists of dirt from the pen environment and cannot be dissolved and removed by water alone. Soap does not kill bacteria, but does dissolve and remove the biofilm allowing disinfectant to do its job against bacteria, which means both products have to be used in a subsequent combination.

Bacteria can thrive particularly well under mats and other places that are warm and damp. It’s therefore very important to lift and remove all mats. There are often mats in the holes of farrowing houses/sections, and there can also be weight relief mats under the sow. If they're not lifted and removed, there is a major risk of bacteria multiplying, which can lead to increased frequency of diarrhoea, umbilical hernia and arthritis in weaners. 

The use of soap and disinfection can give a better health status and increase in production, but it requires a correct usage of these substances according to their direction of use. If the products are used incorrectly, disinfectant failure is often seen. We recommend an expertise guidance in the choice and use of soap and disinfectants to avoid it rapidly becoming an expensive experience.

Cleaning tips

Washing and cleaning:
- Soaking for 6-12 hours makes the job easier
- Use the soap after an initial wash and leave it to soak for 15-30 min
- Rinse soap off thoroughly before it dries. Leave no visible dirt behind
- Empty all cribs and remove all the left feed from troughs and feeding system.
Disinfection and drying out: 
- Apply a suitable disinfectant to damp - but not wet - surfaces
- Start drying out immediately after disinfection 
- Set room temp. to the target temperature
Drying out is probably the best way to kill bacteria! So use a heat blower to dry pens out completely. Getting the level of humidity down is at least as important as a high temperature.
Remember to wash and disinfect the water system between each new occupancy. Medicine in the water and high temperatures in the stables is creating a good environment for the forming of a biofilm inside the water pipes, providing ideal conditions for bacteria.


Bedding in the corner holes with full floor gives to the pigs a dry, warm and healthy environment. When choosing bedding, it’s important that it’s not too sharp or rough, which can accidentally scratch weaners allowing bacteria to get in and may for example cause arthritis. A good tip is rubbing the back of your hand on the bedding to determine how scratchy it is. 

In Vilomix we recommend a mix of Agrosan Dry Out® - a dry disinfection product invented in Denmark, tested by recognized international laboratories and used worldwide due to its documented effect on the most common bacteria and fungi spores - and Vilostrø (heat-treated quality straw) using a ratio of 1:1 for excellent control of flora in the bottom of pens.

Planning is part of the job!

That applies to cleaning and disinfection of pig pens as well! It’s therefore a good idea to have a written plan with the procedures for cleaning and disinfection for the cleaning team. Each plan should be adapted to the existing farm conditions. Follow the plan and check the results! A plan can be subsequently adjusted to ensure the next cleaning and disinfection is even better. That will help ensure that optimum cleaning and disinfection is done in the best way possible.

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