Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production

Preventing clostridial dermatitis in your flock.

Posted July 19, 2023 by Dr. Ann Wooming, Poultry Technical Service Manager

Clostridial dermatitis (CD), or Cellulitis, continues to be one of the most pressing concerns for the turkey industry. Year after year, CD has ranked within the top three health concerns for turkey producers and current methods of preventing and controlling it aren’t as effective as they need to be.

Typically, flocks begin experiencing mortality from CD when they are older and closer to the time of processing, usually between 13 to 18 weeks of age. In other words, at a point where you’ve already invested a good deal of time, money and input.

Getting to the root of the problem.

Disease pathogenesis for clostridial dermatitis is poorly understood. Currently, Clostridium septicum is believed to be the primary cause, but other clostridial species, specifically C. perfringens and C. sordellii may also have a role in the disease.

The exact mechanism by which birds become affected is not known but there are currently two theories:

  1. The first suggests the disease is triggered from the inside-out. Some mechanism within the bird triggers the disease process leading to the migration of resident Clostridium spp. (C. septicum, and C. perfringens and/or others) from the gut or potentially the overgrowth of those clostridia organisms and the resulting toxemia.
  2. The second theory suggests the disease comes from the outside-in. Skin breaks and scratches on the bird allow entrance of Clostridium spp. from the environment to infect the skin and the bacteria and/or its toxins cause necrosis.

Current methods of control.

Current methods of control focus on management of the flock and the barn environment as well as vaccination. Litter management is one tactic crucial to reducing incidence of CD. Clostridium spp. are spore-forming bacteria which thrive in litter. Under the right conditions, the spore form becomes vegetative and multiplies in the environment. Preventing these bacteria from spreading is one key to reducing the likelihood of CD.

A #ScienceHearted solution.

At ARM & HAMMER, we’re currently in the final development of a Bacillus-based product to treat litter and prevent CD. By adding the product to the diet, the Bacillus in their feces is spread throughout the barn during the grow-out period.

The objective of the product is to reduce the overall load of Clostridium spp. in the litter. The product contains strains of Bacillus which, through production of enzymes and secondary metabolites that are antibacterial, reduce the vegetative population of Clostridium spp., and make the litter less hospitable for bacterial growth.

This strategy of using the birds to continuously inoculate the litter means less labor is needed and the Bacillus are continuously being excreted into the litter for a sustained application instead of a one-and-done approach to treating litter.

The proof is in the performance.

In a commercial turkey trial, the product significantly reduced Clostridium spp. levels and C. perfringens levels in the litter of market age toms. Results were obtained by measuring a baseline level of Clostridium spp. and C. perfringens at select farms and then treating the flocks with the product in the diet over two successive flocks and measuring the bacterial levels post treatment.

In addition to significant reductions in Clostridium spp., the product also significantly lowered the water activity of the litter as measured at the water line, feed line and between those two locations.

While we still don’t know the exact cause of CD, this #ScienceHearted solution brings us one step closer to mitigating this pressing threat. This product is still in development so make sure to connect with your ARM & HAMMER sales rep and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn to be the first to know when this product is available.




Want to learn more about what our #ScienceHearted team can do for your operation? Fill out the form below and one of our experts will be in touch shortly.



About Dr. Ann Wooming

Dr. Wooming is a Poultry Technical Service Manager for Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production. She brings over two decades of poultry science expertise to the #ScienceHearted team. Dr. Wooming holds her Bachelor of Science from Grand Valley State University, and her Master of Science in Poultry Science and Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas.



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