A project was conducted in order to determine the degree of Salmonella contamination and the specific farm management practices which were related to Salmonella contamination. Samples were screened using an enzyme immunoasssay and confirmed with biochemical and serological tests. Samples collected from the feed mill were contaminated most frequently, followed by samples from the breeder/multiplier house, the processing plant, the broiler house, and the hatchery. Two breeder/multiplier flocks whose ovaries were contaminated with S. typhimurium were discovered, and progeny of these flocks were followed in the field. While S. typhimurium was found in 40–60% of yolk sacks of the day-old chicks tested, the percentage of birds in which Salmonella (any serotype) was detected decreased to about 3% at market age. Salmonella was found in about 35% of the ceca collected at the plant, while slightly over 75% of the processed birds were positive. Dominant Salmonella serotypes shifted as the birds were processed, with S. hadar and S. muenster, rather than S. typhimurium, dominating in the finished product. Only reduced litter moisture and water chlorination appeared related to Salmonella contamination rates in broilers on the farm. While feeds frequently contain Salmonella, these data suggest that breeder/multiplier flocks can determine whether or not broilers contain Salmonella. However, these data also suggest that Salmonella contamination of ready-to-cook broilers probably occurs mainly during catching and loading, live-haul, or processing.
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