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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fayetteville, Arkansas » Poultry Production and Product Safety Research » Research » Research Project #424379

Research Project: Use of Natural Strategies to Alleviate Enteric Pathogens in Organic Poultry

Location: Poultry Production and Product Safety Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Our overall goal is to study the effectiveness of natural strategies in the control of enteric problems such as necrotic enteritis and Salmonella and Campylobacter infection and promote gut health in poultry raised under organic conditions, while assisting organic poultry producers to comply with the requirements of the National Organic Program. Specific research objectives are: 1. Evaluate the effectiveness of management strategies to prevent and control enteric pathogens in organic poultry; 2. Control enteric pathogens causing diseases such as necrotic enteritis in organic poultry production systems; 3. Reduce the incidence of foodborne pathogens including Salmonella and Campylobacter in organic poultry production and 4. On farm testing of effectiveness of treatments and strategies against enteric pathogens in organic poultry production systems. The results of the project and information on organic poultry production in general, will be disseminated to the organic and sustainable agriculture communities by an extension team comprised of experienced poultry specialists and stakeholders who have been involved in organic poultry production. The outreach/extension objectives of this proposal are to: 1. Disseminate results of the project to the organic poultry community, through numerous delivery methods including conferences, electronic and printed materials, and training activities in a research and teaching oriented organic poultry facility; 2. Conduct outreach to organic poultry producers, avian health professionals, extension specialists and other interested stakeholders regarding the objectives and results of this project; 3. Measure the impact of outreach in reducing enteric pathogens and foodborne pathogens in organic poultry production.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
As part of a USDA Organic Research and Extension Initiative funded proposal research and extension objectives will be conducted in cooperation with collaborators from the ARS Unit in College Station (Byrd), University of Arkansas Fayetteville, University of Connecticut, Appalachian State University, University of Tennessee, Penn State University, University of Arkansas Pine Bluff; the University of Kentucky and NCAT focused on a comprehensive approach to reduce pathogen and disease sources in organic poultry production systems. Caprylic acid (CA) is a natural, fatty acid present in bovine milk and coconut oil, and is an FDA-approved food-grade compound. Trans-cinnamaldehyde (TC) is also a food-grade compound naturally present in cinnamon oil. Our preliminary research indicates that CA and TC are bactericidal on Salmonella and Campylobacter, highlighting the potential of CA and TC as new tools to control these pathogens in organic poultry. In addition there is evidence that these compounds may reduce necrotic enteritis in birds and a disease model will be used to assess this approach. In addition treating birds and the litter with natural products such as these essential oils, probiotics and bacteriophage will also be assessed.

3. Progress Report:
This project, funded through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Program, NIFA, USDA, is a collaborative effort with NCAT. Studies are being conducted on using combinations of natural plant compounds and lactose (natural milk product), and management approaches customized for organic production; our objective is to develop comprehensive strategies to eliminate enteric diseases (necrotic enteritis) and foodborne bacterial contamination (Salmonella and Campylobacter) in organically raised poultry. Under the Extension/Outreach Objective 1, Disseminate results of the project to the organic poultry community, we have been working to develop a multi-faceted outreach plan for helping organic poultry farmers implement science-based management strategies to improve bird health and increase the microbiological safety of organic chicken products. During this period of the project we have participated at multiple meetings to present our project to producers and interested stakeholders; we have visited with organic poultry producers and have made significant progress in the development of educational materials for the online community and printed materials for producers without access to internet services.

4. Accomplishments