Submitted to: Journal of Applied Poultry Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2005
Publication Date: July 1, 2005
Citation: Berrang, M.E., Northcutt, J.K. 2005. Water spray and immersion in chemical sanitizer to lower bacterial numbers on broiler transport coop flooring. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 14(2):315-321. Interpretive Summary: Broilers are transported to the slaughter plant in specialized cages. During the time spent in the cage, broilers continue to defecate and thereby soil the cage floor. Since broiler feces may contain the human pathogen Campylobacter, this organism can be found in cages after removal of live birds. These bacteria can be transferred to the skin and feathers of the next load of broilers placed in the cage. Spray washing and immersion in chemical sanitizer was examined as a means to lower the numbers of Campylobacter in broiler feces that had been previously deposited on cage floor material. Campylobacter numbers were reduced by washing the floor material with a tap water spray. Immersing the floor material in quaternary ammonium or chlorine based sanitizers for 15 seconds did not further lower the numbers of bacteria detected. A longer immersion time actually resulted in higher numbers of Campylobacter recovered from floor material. It may be that the longer immersion resulted in a moister environment making it easier for the sampling method to detect the remaining bacteria. A second spray wash may help to remove some of these bacteria. However, poultry processors have to pay a lot for water use and fresh water is limited in many communities therefore a second spray wash step may not be practical. More research is needed to develop new and innovative ways to clean and sanitize broiler transport cages without using more water than necessary.
Technical Abstract: Broiler transport cages become soiled with feces during use. Feces contaminated with Campylobacter can cause cross contamination of flocks that were previously free of this important human pathogen. Because washing and sanitizing cages requires large amounts of water and is not always effective enough to justify the expense, few broiler companies wash and sanitize cages between uses. In this lab scale study, a tap water spray was effective to lower the numbers of bacteria, including Campylobacter, associated with broiler transport cage flooring material. Immersion in chemical sanitizer after spray washing did not enhance the antibacterial effect. It is possible that sanitizing treatments could be made more effective with high concentrations of chemicals, high temperature treatment or repeated applications of water spray. However, such changes would come at a cost. Research is needed to find new and innovative ways to lower bacterial numbers in broiler transport cages without undue use of water and the expense associated with it.