Three groups of >60-wk-old broiler breeder hens were assessed for the presence of Campylobacter within segments of the reproductive tract. In the first group, after stunned, the hens were bled, scalded, and defeathered, the reproductive tracts were aseptically excised from 18 hens, six from each of three adjacent floor pens that were feces positive for Campylobacter. The reproductive tract segments (infundibulum, magnum–isthmus, shell gland, vagina, and cloaca) were pooled by pen. In the second group, 10 individual hens were sampled from the pens; the reproductive tract was divided into the following segments: magnum, isthmus, shell gland, vagina, and cloaca. For the third group, hens were obtained from two commercial farms that had been determined to be feces positive for Campylobacter, and the reproductive tract was divided into five segments, as described for the second group. Segments of the reproductive tract were placed into sterile plastic bags and suspended 1:3 (w/v) in Bolton enrichment broth, and serial dilutions were plated (0.1 ml) onto Campy-Cefex agar. The agar plates were incubated at 42 C for 24 hr in a microaerobic atmosphere. In group 1, the pooled reproductive tract segments for hens from pen A were Campylobacter positive for the shell gland, vagina, and cloaca; hens from pen B were positive for the cloaca only; and hens from pen C were positive for the magnum–isthmus and cloaca. In the second group, 9 of 10 cloaca samples were Campylobacter positive. Commercial hens in group 3 had campylobacter-positive cloaca samples (12/12), vagina (10/12), shell gland (7/12), isthmus (2/12), and magnum (4/12). Campylobacter colonization of the reproductive tract of the hen could enable vertical transmission of Campylobacter from the hen to the chick.
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Vol. 46 • No. 4