Aims: To test the efficacy of enhanced biosecurity measures on poultry farms for reducing environmental contamination with Campylobacter during partial depopulation of broiler flocks prior to normal slaughter age. The study has also evaluated the risk of infection from live-bird transport crates that are routinely cleaned at the slaughterhouse, but may remain contaminated.
Methods and Results: On-farm sampling and Campylobacter isolation was undertaken to compare the prevalence of contamination on vehicles, equipment and catching personnel during farm visits that took place under normal or enhanced biosecurity. Campylobacters were found in almost all types of sample examined and enhanced biosecurity reduced the prevalence. However, the additional measures failed to prevent colonisation of the flocks. For transport crates, challenge trials involved exposure of broilers to commercially cleaned crates and genotyping of any campylobacters isolated. The birds were rapidly colonised with the same genotypes as those isolated from the cleaned crates.
Conclusions: The enhanced biosecurity measures were insufficient to prevent flock colonisation, and the problem was exacerbated by inadequate cleaning of transport crates at the slaughterhouse.
Significance and Impact of the Study: Current commercial practices in the United Kingdom facilitate the spread of campylobacters among broiler chicken flocks. Prevention of flock infection appears to require more stringent biosecurity than that studied here.