4 Things to remember about fumigation
Fumigation with formaldehyde has been common practice in hatcheries to disinfect eggs since around 1908. These days almost all hatchery managers use it to prevent losses due to microbial contamination of hatching eggs.
Here is some key advice on fumigation based on many visits in hatcheries all over the world by Jason Cormick, Hatchery Specialist at Petersime:
- You cannot fumigate dirt!
Formaldehyde is a surface disinfectant; therefore, it is important to destroy microorganisms while they are still on the surface of the egg shell. It is also important that the shell is not covered in dirt. The fumigant will not sanitise underneath the dirt.
- Don’t use too much product
Disinfection rates must be to the limits of the supplier. The manufacturers spend a lot of money investigating optimal use of their products so double dosing is ineffective and can be dangerous.
- Fumigate as soon as possible at the hatchery
Once the harmful organisms penetrate the shell, they reach the shell membrane within minutes and are protected from the fumigant. Thus, fumigate the eggs as soon as possible, preferably on arrival at the hatchery.
Do not fumigate after egg handling, right before setting. Firstly, the bacteria have probably already entered the egg and secondly the young embryonic germ is very susceptible to certain disinfectants such as formalin. Any residue of the formalin still on the eggs when set can cause the embryo to die.
- Allow good airflow
When it comes to fumigation, the key to success is airflow. The goal is to cover - as far as possible - the complete surface of the hatching egg. You should use setter trays and setter or farm trolleys to fumigate on because they allow good airflow through the eggs.
Do not try to fumigate tightly packed eggs. The fumigant will not be able to work its way through to all the eggs. For this reason, if your eggs need to be unpacked at the hatchery, you need to fumigate after unpacking but before storing.