Comparing Antimicrobial Usage in Commercially-Raised and Organically-Raised Chickens and Turkeys and the Development of Antimicrobial Resistance in Campylobacter jejuni

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2003: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:

Annual Reports


  • Animals: poultry


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, free-range, preventive practices
  • Education and Training: extension


    A comparison of antimicrobial usage in commercially-raised and organically-raised chickens and turkeys and the development of antimicrobial resistance in Campylobacter jejuni were investigated in this study. The results indicated that fluoroquinolone usage in commercial poultry operations could lead to the development of fluoroquinolone resistance in Campylobacter species. Although some commercial poultry farms did not directly get exposed to fluoroquinolones during the entire production period, the high fluoroquinolone resistance rates were also observed in these commercial poultry farms. This observation suggested that fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter strains were stable and able to persist on the farms during several rotations.


    Antimicrobial agents are widely used in agriculture especially in animal production to treat, prevent, and control of bacterial infections as well as to promote growth and enhance feed efficiency (1, 4, 6). There are direct evidences that the use of antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes in animals can select for antimicrobial resistance in both pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria particularly the ones inhabit in the intestinal tracts of animals (1, 6, 12, 14). These antimicrobial-resistant organisms especially zoonotic foodborne bacterial pathogens may serve as reservoirs for antimicrobial resistance genes and infect and/or transfer these genes to humans via contaminated food of animal origin (6, 11, 13). Over the last decade the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in Campylobacter strains isolated from animals has increased dramatically in many countries around the world (2, 4, 7, 12, 14). The emergence of antimicrobial resistance in these foodborne pathogens is likely due to the widespread use of antimicrobial agents in food-producing animals (1, 4, 6, 12, 14).

    As mentioned earlier antimicrobial agents can be used in commercial production practice, while the use of these antimicrobial substances has been restricted in organic production practice. Since no antimicrobials have been used in organically-raised chickens and turkeys and since the demand for organic animal produce has been increasing considerably over the last several years, the difference in antimicrobial resistance of Campylobacter isolates from commercial and organic poultry operations as well as the association between antimicrobial usage in animal production practice and the development of antimicrobial resistance in food-borne bacterial pathogens such as Campylobacter jejuni is of interest.

    Project objectives:

    The objective of this project was to investigate the association between antimicrobial usage in chickens and turkeys in commercially-raised and organically-raised environment and the development of antimicrobial resistance in Campylobacter species.

    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.