Environmental Protection

Hot Air Treatment Decreases Bacteria in Chicken Coops

New research from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) shows that treating chicken coops and cages with hot air can help minimize the amount of disease-causing bacteria that is passed on to other groups of birds during transport.

Poultry producers can reduce bacterial cross-contamination in poultry cages by treating the cages with forced air that's been heated to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a study by USDA scientists. Bacteria, such as Campylobacter, can contaminate other poultry that are free of pathogens. This bacterium can be passed on to other chickens, unless the cages are properly treated.

Campylobacter is a food-borne pathogen that can be present in raw or undercooked poultry. Since the bacteria are commonly found in the digestive tracts of poultry, they're readily deposited onto coops and trucks when contaminated animals are transported to processing plants. The researchers tested the use of hot flowing air to speed the process of drying soiled or washed cages to lower or eliminate detectable Campylobacter on cage flooring.

When the hot flowing air was applied to fecally soiled transport cage flooring samples for 15 minutes after a water-spray wash treatment, Campylobacter levels declined to an undetectable level. Static heat at similar temperatures was not nearly as effective, and unheated flowing air was moderately effective, but less so than hot flowing air.

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