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Campylobacter Colonization of Sibling Turkey Flocks Reared under Different Management Conditions

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Uncertainty exists concerning the key factors contributing to Campylobacter colonization of poultry, especially the possible role of vertical transmission from breeder hens to young birds. A longitudinal study of Campylobacter colonization was performed in two sibling pairs of turkey flocks (four flocks total). Each pair of sibling flocks shared breeder hen populations and was obtained from the same hatchery. One flock of each pair was grown on a commercial farm, and the other was grown in an instructional demonstration unit (Teaching Animal Unit [TAU]). Flocks were located within a 60-mi (96.8-km) radius. The time of placement, feed formulations, stocking density, and general husbandry were the same for both flocks, and each flock was processed at a commercial processing plant following standard feed withdrawal and transport protocols. Both flocks grown on the commercial farms became colonized with Campylobacter between weeks 2 and 3 and remained colonized until processing. Between 80 and 90% of isolates were Campylobacter coli, and the remainder were Campylobacter jejuni. In contrast, neither C. coli nor C. jejuni were isolated from either of the TAU flocks at any time during the production cycle. None of the fla types of Campylobacter from the breeders that provided poults to one of the commercial flocks matched those from the progeny. These results failed to provide evidence for vertical transmission and indicate that this type of transmission either did not occur or was not sufficient to render the TAU turkey flocks Campylobacter positive. Management practices such as proper litter maintenance, controlled traffic between the TAU farm and other turkey flocks, and other less well-defined aspects of turkey production were likely responsible for the absence of Campylobacter in the TAU flocks before harvest.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA 2: College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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