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In-House Windrow Composting and its Effects on Foodborne Pathogens

Control of foodborne pathogens at the farm is a growing concern that is being addressed in the industry. Several methods have shown varying effectiveness in reducing pathogens on the farm, one of which is in-house windrow composting. In this experiment, used litter was obtained and samples were taken to determine the baseline levels of Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, and Salmonella. From these samples, no Salmonella or Campylobacter was detected and baseline counts for C. perfringens were determined. This litter was then formed into 3 windrow compost piles. Temperature probes were placed so as to measure the internal and external temperatures, with the data being recorded hourly. From each compost pile, 3 samples were removed and inoculated with Campylobacter, C. perfringens, and Salmonella. These 9 inoculated samples were then wrapped in cheesecloth, and 2 were placed in the interior and the other 1 was placed in the exterior of each compost pile. After 7 d, the inoculated samples were collected and tested to determine the number of inoculated bacteria that had survived. In all the samples (composted and uncomposted), there was a significant reduction in all of the bacteria measured. Salmonella was completely eliminated from the samples that were composted, whereas it was still recoverable from the uncomposted samples. The results show that in-house composting of litter is an effective way of reducing, and in some cases eliminating, foodborne pathogens in a poultry house.

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