Pooled semen samples from 12 groups of mature commercial broiler breeder roosters were analyzed for the presence of Campylobacter. Each of the 12 groups was comprised of eight individuals and was sampled weekly for five consecutive weeks. Once a day, roosters were allowed to have a restricted amount of feed after the semen samples were collected by abdominal massage. This feeding schedule reduced the amount of fecal contamination in and around the vent as well as in the semen sample. For replications 1, 2, and 3, the numbers of Campylobacter-positive groups were 8, 5, and 5, respectively, out of 12. For replications 4 and 5, 6 of 8 and 6 of 11 groups were positive, respectively. Only two groups were positive for Campylobacter at all sampling times, two groups were negative each time, and eight groups produced variable results. Also, fecal droppings, external swabs of the genitalia, and semen samples were taken from individual roosters between 49 to 65 wk of age. Of the total 275 semen samples collected, 9.47% contained naturally occurring Campylobacter, whereas 9.6% of 114 fecal droppings and 7.9% of the 114 genital swabs were positive. Levels of the organism present in the fecal samples ranged from 1.0 to 4.2 log colony-forming units (CFU)/g with an average of 2.9 log CFU/g feces. For semen, the levels ranged from as low as enrichment recovery only to as high as 3.1 log CFU/ml of semen with an average of 1.2 log CFU/ml. For swabs of genitalia, the levels of Campylobacter were so low that recovery was achieved only through enrichment. These data suggest that rooster semen may serve as a vehicle for transmission of Campylobacter to the reproductive tract of the hen and subsequently to the fertile egg.
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Vol. 46 • No. 3