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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fayetteville, Arkansas » Poultry Production and Product Safety Research » Research » Research Project #446306

Research Project: Investigating the Role of Lighting Photoperiods in Broiler Production on Pre-Harvest Foodborne Pathogen Carriage

Location: Poultry Production and Product Safety Research

Project Number: 6022-32420-001-025-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jun 30, 2024
End Date: Jun 29, 2027

1. Determine the impact of defined photoperiods on enteric stress neurochemicals with known roles in foodborne pathogen colonization. 2. Identify whether photoperiods that result in low levels of avian enteric stress also result in improved bid welfare and behavior. 3. Determine whether photoperiods that improve avian intestinal and behavioral parameters result in reduced foodborne pathogen carriage throughout the production period.

The development of antibiotic alternatives to reduce foodborne pathogens in poultry production is a central area of research at the USDA-ARS and the University of Arkansas in which the synergized efforts can maximize research output. Of particular interest is the fact that lighting photoperiods, as a ubiquitous component of pre-harvest broiler production, are both essential to maximize bird growth and capable of significantly influencing animal stress. Previous studies from our lab and others have shown that serotonin and melatonin, both regulated by circadian rhythm, can influence bacterial foodborne pathogen physiology as well affect animal welfare and behavior. Hence, the targeting of lighting photoperiods may serve as a ‘two-birds one stone’ approach to enhance production while reducing foodborne pathogen carriage by mediating circadian rhythm-based neurochemical production. We already have preliminary data that lighting photoperiods combined with in-feed tryptophan supplementation can significantly influence serotonin concentrations in the broiler chicken gut, thereby providing basis for the feasibility of our hypothesis. No study to date has sought to leverage the lighting schedules to tackle foodborne pathogen carriage at the pre-harvest stage. The development of an optimized lighting photoperiod regimen that reduces avian stress would be expected as widely adoptable by the U.S. poultry industry, and provide a novel antibiotic alternative strategy to combat stress-driven foodborne pathogen carriage in poultry production. We will investigate how broiler chicken behavior and stress physiology can be targeted with precision lighting periods to ultimately reduce foodborne pathogen carriage throughout pre-harvest stage. To achieve our goal we will utilize custom-built behavioral monitoring system that is situated above floor pens with customizable lighting regimens. Chicken feed will be formulated with different levels of L-tryptophan (an amino acid that is GRAS). In addition, we will utilize cutting-edge analytical techniques including ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography to quantitatively assess neurochemical changes in the gut as a consequence of stress and tandem mass spectrometry to determine relevant proteomic changes. It is anticipated that the an optimized lighting schedule will be identified that will reduce stress to effect reduction in foodborne pathogen carriage while enhancing production traits at the pre-harvest stage, thereby providing significant value to the poultry industry. ARS PI will provide expertise and resources for the analysis of stress neuroendocrine markers including serotonin and melatonin, and perform microbiological work including preparation and analysis of Salmonella. Cooperator will perform bird trials using different lighting regimens and perform behavioral analyses.