Taking away food does not take away hunger. In the case of broilers, even when food is not available – during preslaughter, for example - they will continue to peck, and in the absence of hygienic food, they will peck at whatever they can, be it litter, droppings or feathers. Clearly, this activity increases the risk of ingesting bacteria.
At the International Poultry Science Forum, held in conjunction with the International Production and Processing Expo, details were given of how USDA-ARS, Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center, has been looking at the use of the organic salt Calcium formate to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter infection. Calcium chlorate is able to affect bacteria with nitrate reductase, which allows them to grow in anaerobic conditions.
J Allen Byrd explained that the effect of calcium formate was evaluated on broilers obtained from a commercial processing plant and challenged by crop gavage with Salmonella typhimurium. Four days later, broilers were killed for Salmonella typhimurium cfu cecal enumeration.
The birds were given calcium formate in drinking water prior to slaughter and it was found that they consumed no more water than a control group provided with distilled water, so avoiding the problem of wet litter often associated with similar sodium chlorate products which can be used to reduce Salmonella.
The treatment was found to cause a significant decrease in the incidence of Salmonella typhimurium in cecal contents compared to the control.
Although the results were positive, Byrd noted that calcium formate did not result in the dramatic reductions that had been hoped, perhaps, for example, because it will not work in those areas of the intestine where there is oxygen.
Nevertheless, it could be considered as part of control programs for the control of foodborne pathogens, and work will be carried to see how it will work in combination with other products.