Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #140942


item Berrang, Mark
item Northcutt, Julie
item Cason Jr, John

Submitted to: International Poultry Forum Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2002
Publication Date: 7/1/2003
Citation: Berrang, M.E., Northcutt, J.K. 2002. Effect of time on the recovery of campylobacter from feces in transport cages. [abstract] International Poultry Forum Proceedings.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Feces left in transport cages by a Campylobacter-positive flock can cause the spread of Campylobacter to the next flock placed in the cages. This experiment was designed to determine how long Campylobacter can remain viable in feces deposited on the floor of a cage during commercial transport and holding. Commercial farms were tested for Campylobacter by culturing feces. A Campylobacter-positive house was chosen to provide the birds for each of two replications. Following 4 hours off feed, broilers were caught by commercial catching crews, placed into three new commercial cages and transported to the holding shed at a commercial processing plant. Broilers were allowed to remain in the cages for eight hours before being unloaded, resulting in a 12 h total feed withdrawal. Following removal of the broilers, cages were held on a trailer under a shed. The cages were sampled at time intervals for the presence of viable Campylobacter. Sampling was done by scraping all the feces out of a different randomly assigned compartment in each cage at: 30 min, 2 h, 4 h, 6 h, 8 h, 24 h, and 48 h after unloading. Mean number of Campylobacter cfu recovered from feces was calculated from the three cages at each sample time for each replication. No decrease in Campylobacter numbers was noted through 8 h after unloading. In both replications, Campylobacter was detected in only 2 of 3 compartments by direct plating and detected in the third by enrichment 24 h after unloading. After 48 h of cage holding, Campylobacter was detected in one replication only by enrichment, and was not detected in the second replication at all. Contaminated feces left to dry in a cage for 24 h has recoverable numbers of Campylobacter. Some Campylobacter may remain viable in feces allowed to dry for 48 h in a cage. Allowing a transport cage to dry for 24 to 48 h between uses may lower the numbers of Campylobacter the next flock is exposed to, but cannot be expected to eliminate that exposure altogether.