Sulfur Use for Northern Fowl Mite Control in Poultry Systems

Final report for GNC19-277

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2019: $10,409.00
Projected End Date: 03/16/2020
Grant Recipients: Purdue University; Purdue University
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Darrin Karcher, Ph.D.
Purdue University
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Project Information

Summary:

     Sulfur use for Northern Fowl Mite control in poultry systems will involve the use of Yellow Jacket Wettable Sulfur II powder for use in different types of laying hen systems (i.e., commercial, small farm, backyard flock) as a means to mitigate Northern Fowl Mite (NFM) populations. Northern Fowl Mites are obligate blood-feeding ectoparasites that can cause decreased egg production, profit loss, anemia, irritation to flocks and personnel, and death to hens in extreme cases. We plan to work primarily at the Purdue University Animal Science Research and Education Center Poultry Unit in West Lafayette, IN and at Farm Crest Foods in Pigeon, MI. Sulfur will be administered to hens in cloth bags modified from a prior published study (Murillo and Mullens 2016). The goal of this project is to examine the efficacy of sulfur powder as a means to eliminate Northern Fowl Mites and to help laying hen producers recognize an effective and more natural alternative to traditional acaricides. We will write an extension publication and distribute it to poultry producers, both large and small, through outreach efforts. We also will evaluate the impact of this project through an entry and exit survey given to producers prior to the interaction, one-on-one or through literature, and a follow-up six months later.

Project Objectives:

     Upon validation of the extension publication and techniques on NFM control, our development of an extension program for educators will be produced to increase awareness and knowledge of sulfur as an alternative solution to Northern Fowl Mite control. Those involved with the production of table eggs will be able to adopt sulfur powder use in dust bags or dust boxes as a means to control or prevent mite infestations, which negatively impact flock production and welfare. This project could also help stimulate more research on Northern Fowl Mites in different types of poultry systems, due to a limited amount of research on this subject. Northern Fowl Mite treatment and prevention will improve producers’ well-being through increased egg production impacting economic viability. Better control of the Northern Fowl Mite will provide a better quality of life for personnel working directly with flocks. The project will enhance established and build new relationships with laying hen operations (regardless of size) in Indiana and the North Central region of the United States through our extension program.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Dr. Christina Wilson-Frank
  • Scott Maust

Research

Materials and methods:

     The objective of initial testing with sulfur bags at the Purdue University Poultry Unit was to determine the amount of sulfur deposition in eggshells and egg yolks when sulfur powder is administered via bags in a cage. Yellow Jacket Wettable Sulfur II Powder (Georgia Gulf Sulfur, Valdosta, GA) was used in this project. This product is approved for use in poultry systems and on crops but is not recommended for human ingestion. Because of this, it is important to investigate its potential introduction into the food chain when used in a conventional cage system.

     Sulfur bags were adapted from Murillo and Mullens (2016), and involved layered cheesecloth filled with approximately thirty grams each of sulfur powder. Bags were tied closed with twine and were hung in a conventional cage system at the Purdue University Animal Science Research and Education Center (West Lafayette, IN). In the cages, hens were able to brush up against the dust bags hung in the middle of each cage, which allowed the fine sulfur powder to settle onto their bodies. This allows for self-application of sulfur on the birds, which can cut down on labor costs, as noted in Murillo and Mullens (2016).

     Sulfur dust bags remained in the cages for six days and were replaced as they emptied or fell. Eggs were collected daily and were not washed in order to simulate a worst-case scenario. The eggs were broken into ten pools of six eggs per day, with egg contents and shells separated. The contents were homogenized and freeze-dried and shells were crushed. Eggshell and egg content samples were sent to the Purdue University Animal Disease and Diagnostic Lab (West Lafayette, IN). Analysis of eggshells and egg contents was used to determine the amount of sulfur deposited (percent sulfur content) in the eggs

Research results and discussion:

Egg samples were tested at the Purdue University Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory for sulfur content and results are shown in the table below:

 

Sample

Sulfur Content (%)

Eggshell

 

 

 

Day 3, Pool 1

0.14

 

Day 3, Pool 2

0.14

 

Day 3, Pool 3

0.14

 

Day 3, Pool 4

0.14

 

Day 3, Pool 5

0.13

 

Day 4, Pool 1

0.15

 

Day 4, Pool 2

0.13

 

Day 4, Pool 3

0.14

 

Day 4, Pool 4

0.15

 

Day 4, Pool 5

0.13

 

Day 5, Pool 1

0.16

 

Day 5, Pool 2

0.14

 

Day 5, Pool 3

0.13

 

Day 5, Pool 4

0.16

 

Day 5, Pool 5

0.15

Egg Contents

 

 

 

Day 3, Pool 1

0.86

 

Day 3, Pool 2

0.78

 

Day 3, Pool 3

0.80

 

Day 3, Pool 4

0.76

 

Day 3, Pool 5

0.80

 

Day 4, Pool 1

0.78

 

Day 4, Pool 2

0.86

 

Day 4, Pool 3

0.78

 

Day 4, Pool 4

0.85

 

Day 4, Pool 5

0.76

 

Day 5, Pool 1

0.78

 

Day 5, Pool 2

0.73

 

Day 5, Pool 3

0.81

 

Day 5, Pool 4

0.77

 

Day 5, Pool 5

0.86

 

     Sulfur content measured was a "worst-case" scenario where the eggs are not removed from the production environment or washed prior to assessment. While the FDA never responded on approving the use of sulfur in the sulfur bags, the data generated could assist others in getting this product approved for use in controlling Northern Fowl Mite infestations in egg production.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

NA

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

     Unfortunately, due to time constraints in the approval process with USDA-AMS and the Food and Drug Administration, we were unable to complete the portion of this project that aims to use sulfur powder for ectoparasite control in a commercial laying hen facility.

Knowledge Gained:

NA

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.