Investigation of Prevalence and Risk Factors for Campylobacter in Broiler Flocks at Slaughter

Based on the results of a survey, factors that affect the likelihood of Campylobacter colonisation of broilers include partial depopulation of the flock (‘thinning’), season, age and flock mortality, according to new research from the UK. Transportation time to the abattoir appeared to have a small protective effect against colonisation.
calendar icon 11 June 2012
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During 2007–2009, a UK–wide, three–year stratified randomised survey of UK chicken broiler flocks was conducted to estimate the prevalence of Campylobacter–infected batches of birds at slaughter, according to a recently published paper in the journal, Epidemiology and Infection, by Joanna Lawes and colleagues at the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) in Surrey.

Thirty-seven abattoirs, processing 88.3 per cent of the total UK slaughter throughput, were recruited at the beginning of the survey.

Of the 1,174 slaughter batches sampled, 79.2 per cent were found to be colonised with Campylobacter, the majority of isolates being C. jejuni.

The study revealed a number of factors that affected Campylobacter colonisation in broilers, report Lawes and her co-authors.

Previous partial depopulation of the flock [odds ratio (OR)=5.21], slaughter in the summer months (categorised as June, July and August; OR=14.27) or autumn months (categorised as September, October and November; OR=1.70), increasing bird age (40–41 days, OR=3.18; 42-45 days, OR=3.56; over 46 days, OR=13.43) and higher recent mortality level in the flock (1.00–1.49 per cent mortality, OR=1.57; more than 1.49 per cent mortality, OR=2.74) were all identified as significant risk factors for Campylobacter colonisation of the birds at slaughter.

Time in transit to the slaughterhouse of more than 2.5 hours was identified as a protective factor (OR=0.52).


Lawes J.R., A. Vidal, F.A. Clifton-Hadley, R. Sayer, J. Rodgers, L. Snow, S.J. Evans and L.F. Powell. 2012. Investigation of prevalence and risk factors for Campylobacter in broiler flocks at slaughter: results from a UK survey. Epidemiology and Infection, FirstView Article, 1-13.

Further Reading

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June 2012
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