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Salmonella Can Cause Poorer Eggshell Quality

Date:
October 15, 2004
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
A decrease in eggshell quality is a trait that may be used to detect chickens infected with Salmonella, according to Agricultural Research Service scientists.
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Salmonella enteritidis.
Credit: Photo by Jean Guard-Petter

A decrease in eggshell quality is a trait that may be used to detect chickens infected with Salmonella, according to Agricultural Research Service scientists.

Veterinary medical officer Jean Guard Bouldin, at the ARS Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Ga., found an interesting phenomenon--not only was Salmonella present inside chicken eggs, but other bacteria were there also. Since these bacteria are usually seen in eggs that have been contaminated through cracks in the shell, Bouldin theorized that poor eggshell quality allowed the bacteria to enter the egg.

Salmonella enteritidis is hard to detect in chickens because there are no symptoms. This poses a significant problem, because S. enteritidis, found inside the egg, is an important cause of human food-borne illness.

Bouldin and Jeff Buhr, of the ARS Poultry Processing and Meat Quality Research Unit in Athens, Ga., conducted tests in which chickens were inoculated with S. enteritidis. Eggs were then tested for hardness by compressing them until a hairline crack formed. Eggs from Salmonella-infected hens cracked easier than those from noninfected hens. Other research has shown that some strains of S. enteritidis seem to target the hen's reproductive tract, which appears to result in an egg with a less resilient shell, according to Bouldin.

At low-dose infection, Bouldin found that S. enteritidis actually stimulated egg production, particularly in older hens. This increased production may have stretched the limited eggshell material--calcium--a bit too thin, literally.

Other diseases of chickens can also decrease shell quality, but usually they result in a decrease in production and illness in hens. Changes to eggshell quality over the lifespan of a laying hen are to be expected, and thus a hen's age could be an additional risk factor.

ARS is the USDA's chief scientific research agency.


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The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Salmonella Can Cause Poorer Eggshell Quality." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041011075318.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2004, October 15). Salmonella Can Cause Poorer Eggshell Quality. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041011075318.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Salmonella Can Cause Poorer Eggshell Quality." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041011075318.htm (accessed May 29, 2015).

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