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Poultry Products Poison Cattle

by 5m Editor
19 August 2008, at 8:03a.m.

UK - The Veterinary Laboratories Agency has published its report <em>Potential Food Safety Incidents</em> for the period April to June 2008. There was just one report of poultry being poisoned but poultry litter or carcasses were implicated in nine cases of botulism (caused by <em>Clostridium botulinum</em>) in beef and dairy cattle.

Lead Incident Involving Poultry

Lead toxicity was confirmed in a flock of 2000 organic laying hens. The hens were 42 weeks into lay and had been laying since 22 weeks. This group of hens had never reached their expected production potential. Post mortem examinations revealed several cases of egg peritonitis and lead shot was seen in gizzards on a number of occasions, one bird had 59.0g of lead shot in the gizzard.


The gizzard of one bird contained 59g of lead shot

The hens range next to a clay pigeon shoot and lead shot from the shoot is the source of lead. Egg analyses revealed consistently high concentrations of up to 2.55ppm lead. The case resulted in a product recall. The contaminated flock were slaughtered. There are ongoing discussions between Trading Standards, FSA and the farmer as to how he can best clean up and continue to farm the existing contaminated land.

Botulism Incidents in Cattle

Case 1
Botulism was suspected to be the cause of recumbancy and flaccid paralysis in a 4-year-old dairy shorthorn cow. Approximately 15 dairy cows had died or been euthanased in total over the winter of 2007-2008. This case was linked to a previous one last year. The cause of botulism was thought to be silage and associated with the use of poultry litter onto silage ground during 2007. The farmer verbally agreed to voluntary withhold clinically affected cattle from the food chain. Vaccination has since been carried out.

Case 2
Botulism was suspected to have caused the recumbency and death of a 13-month-old beef bull, one of four to have been affected in a 2 week period. Several other cattle in the group of 260 had shown similar clinical signs since Christmas 2007. The source of botulism was thought to be chicken carcases found buried in stored brewers grains. The cattle feed is stored unsecured adjacent to a 100,000-bird broiler unit and it is suspected that wildlife transport carcases from the poultry unit and then bury them in the cattle feed. Management changes have since been made.

Case 3
Botulism was suspected to have caused the recumbency and death of a 18-month-old dairy heifer, one of two to have been affected in a group of 34. There is a single broiler house 500 metres from the grazing field and poultry litter had been spread on some of the fields in the vicinity. The neighbouring farmer also suspected that he had had cases.

Case 4
Botulism was suspected to be the cause of recumbancy in three adult housed suckler cows in a group of 18 over a period of 2 weeks. The cattle were also diagnosed to be copper-deficient.

Case 5
Botulism was suspected to have caused recumbency and death in five 9-month-old beef bulls which were part of a group of 27 to be bedding on poultry manure. The farm reported using poultry manure as bedding for 15 years without encountering previous problems. C. botulinum toxin type D was isolated from intestinal content.

Case 6
Botulism was suspected to have caused recumbency in two 18-month-old beef suckler heifers which were part of a group of 67. The source was suspected to be a pile of poultry manure 400 metres from the grazing field and which showed visible signs of disturbance by wildlife. C. botulinum toxin type D was isolated from intestinal content.

Case 7
Botulism was suspected to have caused recumbency and death in four dairy heifers aged between 15 and 20 months. The source was suspected to be poultry manure which is spread on pasture and ploughed into arable land from the large broiler units on the farm. Vaccination is to be undertaken. C.botulinum toxin type D was isolated from intestinal content.

Cases 8 and 9
Botulism was suspected to have caused recumbency and death in dairy heifers. One 12-month-old heifer was affected in Case 8 and four 9-month old heifers in Case 9. The source was suspected to be poultry manure spread onto adjacent pastures.

Further Reading

- You can view the full Veterinary Laboratories Agency report by clicking here.

5m Editor