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Poult Sci. 2005 Feb;84(2):185-93.

Reduction of Salmonella enterica serovar enteritidis colonization and invasion by an alfalfa diet during molt in Leghorn hens.

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  • 1Department of Poultry Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA.


The standard method for molting to stimulate multiple egg-laying cycles in laying hens is feed deprivation. However, the physiological changes within hens caused by feed deprivation increase susceptibility of the hens to Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis (SE) infection. In an effort to develop an alternative method to induce molting without increasing susceptibility to SE, an alfalfa diet was compared with the standard molting method for the level of ovary regression and SE colonization. Hens over 50 wk of age were divided into 3 treatment groups (12 hens/group): nonmolting by normal feeding (NM), molting by feed deprivation (M), and molting by alfalfa diet (A). Individual hens on all treatments were challenged orally with 10(5) cfu of SE on the fourth day after feed changes and were analyzed for ovary weight and SE colonization or invasion in crop contents, cecal contents, liver, spleen, and ovary on the ninth day. In 3 of the 4 trials, there was a significant decrease in SE colonization of the crop between the alfalfa diet (A) and the feed deprived molt (M). In most of the 4 trials, there was a significant reduction in SE infected organs in birds fed the alfalfa diet (A) compared with birds undergoing feed deprived molt (M). Most of the trials showed no significant difference in overall SE between A and NM. Therefore, the results of this study suggest that an alfalfa diet has the potential to be used as an alternative method for forced molting, without increasing the incidence of SE in eggs and internal organs.

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