Poultry Farming

Chlorine Gas in Poultry Farming


Poultry farming has a rich history, with the practice dating back centuries. However, with the advent of large confinement operations in the 20th century, ensuring the safety, health, and productivity of poultry became a complex task. Contamination of water systems within poultry farms can quickly spread infectious organisms, posing risks to both the birds and consumers (Gržinić et al., 2023). In response to these challenges, chlorine disinfection has emerged as a popular and effective method. Chlorine’s ability to combat a broad spectrum of pathogens, its residual effect, and its cost-effectiveness have made it a staple in the poultry industry.

Prompting of Application:

In today’s society, there is an increasing emphasis on promoting a healthy lifestyle, with the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and poultry products recognized as essential components of a balanced diet. Poultry, in particular, accounts for a significant portion of meat consumption. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize the safety and quality of poultry products. Water plays a vital role in every aspect of poultry metabolism, from regulating body temperature to aiding digestion and waste elimination (Mormino, 2012). However, bacterial growth in poultry house drinkers can occur rapidly, even if the source water is initially free of bacteria (Water Online, n.d.).

The presence of coliform bacteria in drinking water is a common concern, as these bacteria can originate from fecal matter and indicate potential fecal contamination (Washington State Department of Health, n.d.). Pathogens associated with coliform bacteria, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter, pose significant health risks to both poultry and consumers. Ensuring the quality and safety of drinking water is, therefore, essential to maintain the health and well-being of poultry flocks and to minimize the transmission of pathogens through poultry products.

Chlorine disinfection has proven highly effective in reducing microbial loads, controlling coliform bacteria, and preventing the spread of waterborne pathogens in poultry farms (National Chicken Council, n.d.). Chlorine’s sanitization properties and its effectiveness against a wide range of bacteria and fungi make it the most popular sanitizer in the poultry industry (The Poultry Site, 2009). By introducing chlorine gas into the water supply, poultry farmers can achieve optimal disinfection, reduce bacterial contamination, and create a safer environment for their flocks.

The advantages of chlorine disinfection in poultry farming are multifaceted. Chlorine gas not only eliminates existing pathogens but also provides a residual effect, continuously protecting the water system against microbial regrowth and recontamination (US EPA, 1999). This residual effect helps maintain a consistently clean and safe water supply for the poultry. Furthermore, chlorine gas is cost-effective, as it requires minimal chemical usage compared to other disinfection methods. Its stability over extended periods and resistance to degradation across a wide temperature range ensure reliable and long-lasting disinfection performance.

Alternate Methods:

Sodium Hypochlorite is a clear, slightly yellowish solution with a characteristic odor, exhibiting residual chemical properties similar to Chlorine gas. Its initial installation is relatively simple, requiring small metering pumps for use. However, Sodium Hypochlorite poses challenges in effective metering due to off-gassing and its general instability. It is a dangerous and corrosive substance that requires stringent safety measures to protect workers and the environment. Direct contact can cause burns to the skin, and it must be handled with protective clothing. Sodium Hypochlorite should also be prevented from coming in contact with air as it disintegrates upon exposure (Lenntech, 2005). Furthermore, its low Chlorine content of just 12.5% makes it less efficient as a disinfectant compared to Chlorine gas. Additionally, Sodium Hypochlorite weakens over time, making it difficult to achieve consistent residual concentrations (Castle Cleaning Solutions, n.d.).

Calcium Hypochlorite, on the other hand, is a white, dry solid containing approximately 65% chlorine. It is commercially available in granular and tablet forms. Compared to Sodium Hypochlorite, Calcium Hypochlorite offers better stability, allowing for longer storage and fewer training requirements. However, the formation of precipitated solids in solution by Calcium Hypochlorite can complicate chemical feeding. This disinfectant chemical is considerably more expensive than others, and it is regarded as spontaneously combustible and explosive, requiring extra precautions during handling and storage (OSH, 2023).

Idophor compounds, known for their low toxicity, can be effective in food service or food processing applications (ScienceDirect, n.d.) These compounds are not affected by hard water, have a long shelf life, and work well in hot or cold water. However, they are generally more expensive than Chlorine disinfection.

While these alternate methods offer some advantages, Chlorine gas remains the preferred choice for poultry farming disinfection due to its effectiveness, residual effect, and cost- effectiveness. It provides reliable and consistent disinfection performance, ensuring the safety and well-being of poultry and maintaining high-quality poultry products for consumers. Hydro Instruments specializes in providing equipment for the implementation of Chlorine gas feeding, offering superior control accuracy, enhanced reliability, and reduced maintenance requirements. With Hydro Instruments’ gas feed systems, poultry farmers can confidently implement Chlorine disinfection, benefiting from its advantages and ensuring the optimal health and safety of their flocks.

The following table provides a quick comparison of several chemical disinfection options.

Table 1: Comparison of chlorine disinfection options.

Chlorine Gas Calcium Hypochlorite Sodium Hypochlorite
% Concentration by Weight of Available Chlorine 100% 65% 0.8% to 12.5%
Quantity of Media Required Low Moderate High
Required Storage Space Minimal Moderate High
Transportation Costs Minimal Minimal High
Safety Concerns (Chlorine gas is a skin and mucous membrane irritant. Chlorine gassings can be the result of a leak from a gas chlorine system or off gassing from sodium hypochlorite liquid or the pre-disinfection solution prepared by mixing water

with calcium hypochlorite).

-Potential gas release


-Off gassing of Chlorine, especially from solution

-Spontaneously combusts


-Sensitive to heat and sunlight

-Off gassing of Chlorine


-Heat and sunlight cause off gassing and degradation

Chemical Addition None Calcium Sodium
Decomposition (Degradation of potency with time, as dependent on conditions, while releasing chlorine gas) None Moderate High
Personnel Oversight Minimal High Moderate
Additional Comments “Clean” application “Messy” application and residue problems are common “Messy”


Equipment Selection:

Hydro Instruments, a leading provider of water treatment solutions, specializes in offering a comprehensive range of products designed for chlorine disinfection in poultry farming. These equipment solutions are recommended to ensure optimal disinfection:

Gas Feed Systems: Hydro Instruments’ gas feed systems are designed to facilitate the controlled and efficient introduction of chlorine gas into the water supply for poultry