Preventive Measures to Control Clostridial Outbreaks of Gangrenous Dermatitis in Commercial Broiler Operations



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Gangrenous dermatitis (GD) has become a major health problem among broiler flocks in the United States, resulting in high mortality, carcass condemnations, and trimmed parts. There are large economic losses due to GD. Clostridium septicum, Clostridium perfringens type A, and Staphylococcus aureus are the etiologic agents associated with GD. Gangrenous dermatitis has been associated with birds that have a compromised immune system. It is known that the gastrointestinal (GI) tract plays a crucial role in animal health and performance. The development of a healthy normal microflora in the GI tract benefits the host by improved resistance to pathogens. Our hypothesis is the application of commercial disinfectants, probiotics, vitamins, acidifiers, and windrowing technologies will reduce Clostridium levels in poultry operations. The objective of the first study was to administer probiotics to commercial broilers on three farms periodically throughout the grow-out cycle to conclude if bird health and performance was improved. The objective of the second study was to use commercial disinfectants, vitamins, acidifiers, and windrowing technologies on three farms in multiple houses and determine their effects on broiler production parameters. During grow-out, standard production practices were followed in all experiments and standard production parameters were measured. On all three farms in this study, the probiotic-treated houses had no mortality due to GD and an increase (P </= 0.05) in body weight gain was observed unlike their respective control houses. These experiments indicate that the application of probiotic in this field trial significantly altered the onset of GD by providing the birds with normal GI flora that contributed to their overall health during a commercial field study. When evaluating the different products and field technologies to control GD, our laboratory observed that treatment houses that were windrowed and received added vitamins did break with GD. Houses that were treated with peroxymonosulfates and monoglyceride, peroxymonosulfates, or glutaraldehyde litter disinfectants; acidifiers or vitamins had higher gross and net pounds weight gain at processing than their respective control houses. In conclusion, the significance of this work was to determine if products and technologies can be used by growers in commercial broiler houses to eliminate disease.