Disease Control for the Ostrich and Emu Farm

Where's Rod Hull?Ostrich and Emu farming are of rapidly increasing importance on the agricultural scene in many countries around the world. Large sums of money are being invested and a high return is expected. As with all expanding livestock systems, early attention to the control of potentially costly infectious disease is essential.

Biosecurity, including the correct use of effective disinfectants can often be the most cost effective tool in disease prevention. Modern broad spectrum disinfectants can assist the ostrich farmer to protect his stock against organisms for which medication or vaccines are either not available or are ineffective.


The continuous challenge of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites must be controlled by disinfection. Additionally high losses often occur due to spoilage of eggs. Again, disinfection of eggs and sound hatchery hygiene can significantly increase hatchability and reduce early chick mortality.

The programs shown in this section concentrate on the key areas of management where hygiene is essential for economic production. This is the egg, the hatchery and the brooding accommodation. Hygiene is a very important aspect of any disease control programme.

Farm Hygine

End of Season Farm Disinfectant

Please Disinfect MeThorough cleaning and disinfection of all chick houses and holding areas should be done at the end of the season and at any time when empty.

Dry Cleaning

Remove all faeces and organic matter.


Scrub and wash or use a high pressure hose with a detergent sanitiser solution use:

Farm Care Quat-Gard diluted at 1:1000 (10ml per 10 lt. of water) or


Spray all washed surfaces with a disinfectant solution at the rate of 300ml per square meter of surface. Apply to all surfaces and leave to dry.

Farm Care Viru-Gard  diluted at 1:100 (10gm per 1 lt. water)

Feed and Water Containers

Wash with detergent sanitiser solution. Use:

Quat-Gard diluted at 1:1000 (10ml per 10 lt. water)

Disinfect with Viru-Gard diluted at 1:100 (100gm/10 lt. water).

Routine Farm Disinfection

Chick Houses and Holding Areas

After normal cleaning the levels of pathogenic organisms can be high enough to present a serious challenge to a new batch of chicks. Use broad spectrum disinfectants which are effective against viruses, bacteria, fungi and yeasts.

1. Normal Disinfection: Use Ultra-Gard at dilutions between 1:250 - 1:50 (40 - 200ml/10 lt. water) depending on the level of contamination.

2. On earth floors and at high temperatures, when longer contact times are desirable, dissolve Ultra-Gard in an equal volume of diesel oil before adding and mixing well with the water at 1:100 (100ml/10 lt. water).

Water Systems

Add Viru-Gard to contaminated water at a rate of 1:1000 (10g/10 lt.). In cases where disease can be spread from animal to animal through the drinking water the level of Viru-Gard can be increased to 1:400 (25gm/10 lt.).

Foot Dips

Place foot dips at convenient positions near entrances to camps and houses to prevent diseases being transmitted by staff and visitors. Use Ultra-Gard at a dilution of 1:100 or 100ml/10 lt. water and replace at least once a week.

Egg and Hatchery Hygiene

Handling of Eggs

nestingCollect eggs on at least a daily basis to avoid contamination and losses due to breakage and heat damage in hot summer months.

Wash hands thoroughly before and after egg collection.


Spray daily while collecting eggs with:

Viru-Gard 1:100 (100gm/10 lt. Water)

This is important to control the build-up of pathogenic organisms in the nest.


Use only clean crates for moving the eggs. Wash and disinfect the crates or containers with either:

Viru-Gard diluted at 1:100 (10gm/10 lt. water) or

Hatch-Gard diluted at 1:200 (50ml/10 lt. water).

Disinfection of Eggs

Sanitize as soon as possible after collection to prevent penetration of organisms as eggs cool down.

Dirty Eggs: Wash with either

Viru-Gard using 100g/10 lt. water warmed to 38-40ºC or

Egg-Gard using a 30g/10 lt. water warmed to 38-40ºC

To wash eggs successfully, the solution of sanitiser used has to be at a temperature higher than that of the egg.

The wash solution is poured over the egg which is gently scrubbed with a household nail brush which clears the pore openings of any dirt.

The sanitizing solution has to be free of dirt or dung and so after washing heavily soiled eggs a fresh solution should be made up. The eggs are then left to dry on a clean sanitized surface and then only handled with washed hands.


Eggs should be disinfected prior to setting. Use:

Farm-Care Viru-Gard diluted to 1:100 (100gm/10 lt. water)

Eggs may be sprayed with a solution of the above disinfectant. Use a hand sprayer and evenly wet the entire egg surface, or dip in a solution at a temperature of 38oC for 2-3 minutes. After drying, the eggs may be set or stored. Hatchability is reduced with increasing storage times.


Setters and Hatchers

These should be cleaned regularly both at the beginning of the season and in between batches of eggs.

Wash: wash internal surfaces using either:

Viru-Gard diluted at 1:200 (50g/10 lt. water) or

Quat-Gard diluted at 1:1000 (10ml per 10 lt. water).

Disinfect Spray washed surfaces with disinfection solution at a rate of 300ml/m2, use either:

Viru-Gard diluted at 1:100 (100gm/10 lt. water) or

Hatch-Gard diluted at 1:200 (50ml/10 lt. water).

Eggs in Setters

These can be sprayed on a weekly basis using either:

Viru-Gard diluted at 1:200 (50g/10 lt. water) or

Hatch-Gard diluted at 1:400 (25ml/10 lt. water).

Regular cleaning and disinfection helps to prevent the transmission of organisms from fluff, dust, staff and air to the chicks.

Foot Baths

Position footbaths at entrances and exits to hatcheries. All staff and visitors should use footbaths prior to entering the facility. Use either:

Viru-Gard diluted at 1:100 (100gm/10 lt. water)

Replace Viru-Gard solution as soon as the pink colour fades.