Mountaire Farms Inc.

Millsboro, DE, United States

Mountaire Farms Inc.

Millsboro, DE, United States
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Jenkins M.C.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Parker C.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Ritter D.,Mountaire Farms Inc.
Avian Diseases | Year: 2017

The purpose of this study was to determine if Eimeria oocyst concentrations and species composition in commercial broiler house litter changed during different cycles of anticoccidial drug (ACD) or live Eimeria oocyst vaccine (VAC) control programs and if there was a correlation between Eimeria oocyst levels and broiler performance. Litter samples were collected from a total of 15 different broiler farms encompassing a total of 45 individual houses during at least one complete grow-out cycle over a 21-mo period. Of these 15 broiler farms, three were followed for the entire 21-mo period spanning three ACD and four VAC cycles. Samples were collected at 2, 4, and 7-8 wk of grow-out corresponding to starter, grower, and withdraw periods of the ACD cycle. On a number of occasions, litter samples were obtained just prior to chick placement. Eimeria oocysts were isolated from all samples, counted by microscopy, and extracted for DNA to identify Eimeria species by ITS1 PCR. In general, Eimeria oocyst concentration in litter reached peak levels at 2-4 wk of grow-out regardless of coccidiosis control measure being used. However, peak oocyst numbers were sometimes delayed until 7-8 wk, indicating some level of Eimeria spp. drug resistance or incomplete vaccine coverage. Eimeria maxima, Eimeria acervulina, Eimeria praecox, and Eimeria tenella were generally present in all samples, and no difference in the species composition was noted between houses on a particular farm. While Eimeria species composition was similar among houses, Eimeria spp. oocyst levels exhibited sporadic peaks in one house of a given location's houses. Of particular interest was the observed correlation between E. maxima oocyst abundance and chick mortality. However, no correlation was observed in E. maxima oocyst levels, and the performance parameters adjusted feed conversion ratio and average daily weight gain. This study showed that understanding the dynamics of Eimeria spp. oocyst levels and species composition in litter during ACD or VAC programs may provide insight into the effectiveness of coccidiosis control measures in commercial broiler production.

Li C.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Lillehoj H.S.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Gadde U.D.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Ritter D.,Mountaire Farms Inc. | Oh S.,U.S. Department of Agriculture
Avian Diseases | Year: 2017

Necrotic enteritis (NE) is an important enteric disease in poultry, and Clostridium perfringens (CP) type A strains are the primary etiology. NE is responsible for annual losses of US6 billion to the poultry industry in the United States. An increase in the incidence of NE has been also associated with withdrawal of antibiotic growth promoters from poultry feed. In this study, CP strains isolated from healthy and NE-afflicted birds were characterized microbiologically and molecularly, and their virulence was experimentally tested in chickens. All strains were hemolytic, lecithinase positive, and identified as CP by biochemical tests. Three distinct colony morphologies were seen in brain-heart infusion media with 0.3% agarose, FeSO4, and ZnCl2. The CP strains responded differently to iron chelation with 2,2′-bidypinol. PCR toxinotyping showed that all tested strains were alpha toxin-positive, seven (N11, N10, CP1, CP5, CP13, JGS, and Del1) were beta2-toxin-positive, and only one (Del1) was necrotic enteritis toxin B-like-positive. In vivo studies indicated that most isolates, including strain N11 isolated from the normal chicken gut, were sufficiently virulent to produce NE disease in the Eimeria/CP dual infection model. The Del1 and N11 strains merit further investigation to identify their virulence factors and immune-protective antigens.

Jenkins M.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Klopp S.,Townsends Poultry | Ritter D.,Mountaire Farms Inc. | Miska K.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Fetterer R.,U.S. Department of Agriculture
Avian Diseases | Year: 2010

The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the species composition and salinomycin sensitivity of Eimeria oocysts isolated from commercial broiler farms that differed by means of coccidiosis control (anticoccidial drugs ACD vs. live oocyst vaccines VAC). A comparison of Eimeria species composition and salinomycin sensitivity was also made before and after a producer switched from salinomycin to live oocyst vaccines. In general, no significant difference was observed in the concentration of Eimeria spp. oocysts in litter from VAC-utilizing farms compared to litter from ACD-utilizing farms. Application of PCR-based methods to detect coccidia found that Eimeria species distribution in litter from VAC operations more closely resembled the species composition in the live oocyst vaccines. Drug sensitivity testing found that Eimeria oocysts from VAC operations displayed greater salinomycin sensitivity as measured by weight gain and feed conversion efficiency compared to oocysts from ACD farms. These findings provide additional evidence for the usefulness of live oocyst vaccines to restore ionophore sensitivity in poultry operations that contain an ionophore-resistant population of Eimeria spp. oocysts. © American Association of Avian Pathologists.

Li G.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Li G.,Northeast Agricultural University | Lillehoj H.S.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Lee K.W.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | And 9 more authors.
Avian Pathology | Year: 2010

The present report describes an outbreak of gangrenous dermatitis (GD) infection in a commercial poultry farm in Delaware involving 34-day-old broiler chickens. In addition to obvious clinical signs, some GD-affected broilers also showed severe fibrino-necrotic enteritis and large numbers of Gram-positive rods in the necrotic tissue. Histopathological findings included haemorrhage, degeneration and necrosis of parenchymatous cells, especially of skin, muscle, and intestine. Immunofluorescence staining revealed Clostridium-like bacilli in the skin and the intestine. Both Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium septicum genomic sequences were identified by polymerase chain reaction in bacterial cultures isolated from the skin, muscle, and intestine, and in the frozen tissues from the GD-affected birds. Serological analysis demonstrated that both affected and clinically healthy birds from the same house had high serum antibody titres against C. perfringens, C. septicum, Eimeria, chick anaemia virus, and infectious bursal disease virus. These results are discussed in the context of the relationship between the different Clostridium spp. and the pathogenesis of GD. © 2010 Houghton Trust Ltd.

Lee K.W.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Lillehoj H.S.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Jang S.I.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Pages M.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | And 6 more authors.
Research in Veterinary Science | Year: 2012

The present study reports the effects of various field anticoccidial programs on the distribution of Eimeria spp. in poultry litter and serum antibody titers against coccidia in broiler chickens raised on the used litters. The programs included in ovo vaccination and various medications with either chemicals, ionophores, or both. In general, serum samples from these chickens showed anticoccidial antibody titers when tested at days 7 and 14 post hatch with the peak response at day 43. Serum anticoccidial titers were highest in birds fed a non-medicated diet compared with those vaccinated or fed medicated diets. Total number of Eimeria oocysts and the composition of Eimeria spp. present in the litter samples from different treatment groups varied depending on the type of anticoccidial program. Oocyst counts in general ranged from 3.7×10 3 to 7.0×10 4 per g of litter. Importantly, both morphological and molecular typing studies revealed four major predominant Eimeria spp., E. acervulina, E. maxima, E. praecox, and E. tenella in the litter samples. Collectively, these results indicate that the field anticoccidial programs influenced the type and abundance of Eimeria spp. present in the litter samples and also modulated host immune response to Eimeria. © 2011.

Dumas M.D.,University of Delaware | Polson S.W.,University of Delaware | Ritter D.,Mountaire Farms Inc. | Ravel J.,University of Maryland Baltimore County | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Viral and bacterial pathogens are a significant economic concern to the US broiler industry and the ecological epicenter for poultry pathogens is the mixture of bedding material, chicken excrement and feathers that comprises the litter of a poultry house. This study used high-throughput sequencing to assess the richness and diversity of poultry litter bacterial communities, and to look for connections between these communities and the environmental characteristics of a poultry house including its history of gangrenous dermatitis (GD). Cluster analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed differences in the distribution of bacterial phylotypes between Wet and Dry litter samples and between houses. Wet litter contained greater diversity with 90% of total bacterial abundance occurring within the top 214 OTU clusters. In contrast, only 50 clusters accounted for 90% of Dry litter bacterial abundance. The sixth largest OTU cluster across all samples classified as an Arcobacter sp., an emerging human pathogen, occurring in only the Wet litter samples of a house with a modern evaporative cooling system. Ironically, the primary pathogenic clostridial and staphylococcal species associated with GD were not found in any house; however, there were thirteen 16S rRNA gene phylotypes of mostly Gram-positive phyla that were unique to GD-affected houses and primarily occurred in Wet litter samples. Overall, the poultry house environment appeared to substantially impact the composition of litter bacterial communities and may play a key role in the emergence of food-borne pathogens. © 2011 Dumas et al.

Lee K.W.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Lillehoj H.S.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Park M.S.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Jang S.I.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | And 6 more authors.
Avian Diseases | Year: 2012

Necrotic enteritis (NE) and gangrenous dermatitis (GD) are important infectious diseases of poultry. Although NE and GD share a common pathogen, Clostridium perfringens, they differ in other important aspects such as clinical signs, pathologic symptoms, and age of onset. The primary virulence factors of C. perfringens are its four major toxins (α, β, ε, l) and the newly described NE B-like (NetB) toxin. While neutralizing antibodies against some C. perfringens toxins are associated with protection against infection in mammals, the serologic responses of NE-and GD-afflicted birds to these toxins have not been evaluated. Therefore, we measured serum antibody levels to C. perfringens α-toxin and NetB toxin in commercial birds from field outbreaks of NE and GD using recombinant toxin-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Initially, we used this ELISA system to detect antibody titers against C. perfringens α-toxin and NetB toxin that were increased in birds experimentally co-infected with Eimeria maxima and C. perfringens compared with uninfected controls. Next, we applied this ELISA to field serum samples from flock-mated birds with or without clinical signs of NE or GD. The results showed that the levels of antibodies against both toxins were significantly higher in apparently healthy chickens compared to birds with clinical signs of NE or GD, suggesting that these antitoxin antibodies may play a role in protection against NE and GD. © 2012 American Association of Avian Pathologists.

Lee K.W.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Lillehoj H.S.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Jang S.I.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Li G.X.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Applied Poultry Research | Year: 2011

In-feed antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) are used in commercial poultry production to improve performance and health. In addition, anticoccidial drugs and vaccines provide protection against avian coccidiosis. However, the combined effects of AGP and anticoccidial control programs on poultry health and immune status have not been adequately addressed. Therefore, we assessed live coccidia vaccination, or feeding with 1 of 6 different diets supplemented with coccidiostatic drugs, in combination with AGP, on antibody levels against selected pathogens and serum nitric oxide (NO) levels in broilers. One-day-old untreated and treated chickens were raised on used litter from a gangrenous dermatitis-endemic farm as a source of microbial infection. Clostridium infection in untreated birds was confirmed by the appearance of bacteria-reactive antibodies, with the early presence of antibodies against chicken anemia virus and infectious bursal disease virus and decreasing levels of NO. Coccidia-vaccinated birds given AGP-supplemented diets, in general, had Clostridium antibody levels equal to those of untreated controls. Similarly, few differences between control and vaccinated groups were evident with seropositivity or NO levels. By contrast, most of the coccidiostat plus AGP treatment groups were associated with decreased Clostridium antibody levels compared not only with the unmedicated group, but also with the coccidia vaccine plus AGP group. We conclude that the use of anticoccidial drugs plus AGP may reduce the incidence of Clostridium infection in poultry compared with coccidia vaccination in the presence of AGP, at least under the experimental test conditions used in this study. © 2011 Poultry Science Association, Inc.

Lee K.W.,Animal and Natural Resources Institute | Lillehoj H.S.,Animal and Natural Resources Institute | Lee S.H.,Animal and Natural Resources Institute | Jang S.I.,Animal and Natural Resources Institute | And 3 more authors.
Avian Diseases | Year: 2011

This study was carried out to investigate the effects of exposure of growing broiler chickens of commercial origin to used poultry litter on intestinal and systemic immune responses. The litter types evaluated were fresh wood shavings or used litter obtained from commercial poultry farms with or without a history of gangrenous dermatitis (GD). Immune parameters measured were serum nitric oxide (NO) levels, serum antibody titers against Eimeria or Clostridium perfringens, mitogen-induced spleen cell proliferation, and intestinal intraepithelial lymphocyte or splenic lymphocyte subpopulations. At 43 days posthatch, birds raised on used litter from a GD farm had higher serum NO levels and greater Eimeria or C. perfringens antibody levels compared with chickens raised on fresh litter or used, non-GD litter. Birds raised on non-GD and GD used litter had greater spleen cell mitogenic responses compared with chickens raised on fresh litter. Finally, spleen and intestinal lymphocyte subpopulations were increased or decreased depending on the litter type and the surface marker analyzed. Although it is likely that the presence of Eimeria oocysts and endemic viruses varies qualitatively and quantitatively between flocks and, by extension, varies between different used litter types, we believe that these data provide evidence that exposure of growing chicks to used poultry litter stimulates humoral and cell-mediated immune responses, presumably due to contact with contaminating enteric pathogens. © 2011 American Association of Avian Pathologists.

Mountaire Farms Inc. | Date: 2016-02-18

A method for unloading live poultry onto a horizontal receiving surface from a multi-level transportation container having an access side with an opening at each level and a door for closing each opening. The method includes receiving the transportation container within a support cradle that is rotatably supported on one or more pivot mounts, with the access side of the transportation container in a substantially vertical orientation. The method further includes rotating the support cradle and the transportation container together through an angle of about 90 degrees until the access side of the transportation container is in a substantially horizontal orientation above the horizontal receiving surface while maintaining the doors is a closed position, and upon reaching the substantially horizontal orientation, activating a door opening mechanism to open the doors for each level of the transportation container to deposit the live poultry contained therein onto the horizontal receiving surface.

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