One-Year Study of Newly Constructed Broiler Houses for the Prevalence of Campylobacter

Of the many litter, faecal and water samples collected by researchers at Mississippi State University, only five, six and one of the collected samples, respectively, were confirmed Campylobacter-positive despite litter moisture levels that would encourage bacterial growth.
calendar icon 30 March 2013
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In 2009, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the development of new pathogen reduction performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter both on-farm and in the processing plant, according to K.N. Eberle and colleagues at Mississippi State University in a paper in International Journal of Poultry Science.

They explain that the objective of their study was to evaluate the prevalence and distribution of Campylobacter in three newly constructed broiler houses for the first four flocks placed.

Litter and faecal samples were collected from each house at 0, 28 and 48 days of production. Samples were serially diluted and spread onto Campy Cefex agar plates. Two 40-mL water samples were collected each production day and filtered through a 0.45µm membrane before being placed onto a Campy Cefex agar plate. All plates were purged with a microaerophilic gas and incubated for 36 hours at 42°C. Individual plates were screened for characteristic Campylobacter colonies and suspect colonies were confirmed using a latex agglutination kit. An additional 50g of litter was collected from the evaporative cooling inlets, middle and tunnel ventilation fans to determine litter moisture and pH. Inside and outside temperatures were also collected.

Out of 2,300 litter, 900 faecal and 45 water samples, only five, six and one of the collected samples, respectively, were confirmed Campylobacter-positive.

The middle of the house contained a higher litter moisture level (37 per cent) than the evaporative cooling inlet end (33 per cent) and tunnel ventilation fan end (34 per cent; p<0.05).

Litter pH was not different across days, locations or flocks.

Temperature averaged 26.8°C inside and 27.6°C outside.

In conclusion, Eberle and co-authors report, the newly constructed houses did not show a high prevalence of Campylobacter. Litter moisture was at levels conducive for Campylobacter growth. The high litter pH and low temperatures, along with other on-farm management strategies and the fact the broiler houses were brand new, may have suppressed Campylobacter's ability to colonise the litter.


Eberle K.N., J.D. Davis, J.P. Purswell, H.M. Parker, C.D. McDaniel and A.S. Kiess. 2013. A one Year study of newly constructed broiler houses for the prevalence of Campylobacter. International Journal of Poultry Science 12 (1): 29-36.

Further Reading

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March 2013

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