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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » ESQRU » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #356770

Research Project: Evaluation of Management of Laying Hens and Housing Systems to Control Salmonella and Other Pathogenic Infections, Egg Contamination, and Product Quality

Location: ESQRU

Title: Microbiological impact of delayed movement of pullets

Author
item EBERLE-KRISH, KRISTA - North Carolina State University
item Jones, Deana
item Gast, Richard
item ROBINSON, CARA - Michigan State University
item ANDERSON, KENNETH - North Carolina State University
item KARCHER, DARRIN - Purdue University

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Poultry Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/16/2018
Publication Date: 6/1/2019
Citation: Eberle-Krish, K., Jones, D.R., Gast, R.K., Robinson, C.I., Anderson, K.E., Karcher, D.M. 2019. Microbiological impact of delayed movement of pullets. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 20(2):318-328.

Interpretive Summary: Early production molting of floor rear birds using a non-feed withdrawal diet has little impact on egg safety once birds are moved into a multi-tier aviary system. While total aerobe and Enterobacteriaceae levels for egg location area are different, biologically, the difference was not significant enough to be a food safety concern once eggs are washed and sanitized in the processing plant. Further studies should investigate Salmonella and Campylobacter spp. prevalence in older laying hens that underwent early production molting to see if an increase in prevalence occurs later within the life cycle of the flock.

Technical Abstract: In 2015, the U.S. faced one of the largest outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza ever confirmed. Many of the 7 million pullets depopulated were healthy but could not be moved to laying facilities because of their location in quarantine zones. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of an early production induced molt on Salmonella and Campylobacter prevalence, as well as total aerobes and Enterobacteriaceae enumeration. Pullets were reared in a cage-free barn from 0 to 16 wk. At 17 wk, pullets were assigned to one of four treatments: control (AV); floor (FL); enrichment (EN); and molt (MT). AV was moved into an aviary system to begin lay while FL, EN, and MT were brought into lay in the barn. When production reached 10%, a non-feed withdrawal diet was given to MT for 6 weeks. Post-molt, all remaining treatments were moved to the aviary and maintained until 32 wk. Fecal, organ, and egg shell samples were collected and analyzed at the onset of lay, pre-molt, post-molt, and at depopulation to determine prevalence of Salmonella and Campylobacter. Total aerobic and Enterobacteriaceae levels were enumerated for egg shells collected from the litter, nest box, and aviary system wire. There was no difference for Salmonella and Campylobacter prevalence among treatments for all samples. While no difference was found in total aerobe levels pre-molt, there was a difference (P < 0.05) in Enterobacteriaceae levels for AV, FL and MT. For MT, there was a reduction in total aerobe and Enterobacteriaceae levels from pre-molt to post-molt. While total aerobe and Enterobacteriaceae levels for egg location were found to be significantly different post-molt, biologically, the difference was not enough to be a concern once eggs are washed and sanitized. The results of this study indicate that early production molting of floor-reared pullets has little impact on egg safety once birds are moved into an aviary system.