Arkansas researchers make significant poultry discovery

University of Arkansas researchers identified a species of bacteria that can be associated with lameness in broiler chickens, which brings scientists one step closer to finding a way to prevent infections.

The research team was able to use genetic tools and chickens raised on wire flooring to determine that the bacterium Staphylococcus agnetis is linked to a condition leading to lameness.

The bacteria had previously been known to cause inflammation of the mammary gland in cattle. Lameness can cause chickens to suffer and then these birds are not fit to be consumed by humans. Lameness, according to estimates, can cost growers up to $20 million a year.

The team published its finding in PLOS ONE, an online, open-access journal created by the Public Library of Science.

“Lameness in broiler chickens is a significant animal welfare and financial issue,” Douglas Rhoads, director of the cell and molecular biology interdisciplinary graduate program at Arkansas, said. “This is the first report of this poorly described pathogen in chickens.”

The National Institutes of Health and Arkansas Biosciences Institute helped fund the study.

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