October 30, 2008
Hops contain substances that control pathogenic bacteria in the intestines of chickens, according to USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators.
The hop plant contains bitter acids known to be powerful antimicrobials. One of these compounds, lupulone, was thought to control levels of the disease-causing agent Clostridium perfringens in chickens.
Researchers examined the effect of feeding different concentrations of lupulone via water to broiler chickens to determine the compound's impact on clostridium populations in the intestine tracts of birds inoculated with C. perfringens.
After 22 days â€“ the timeframe associated with clostridial disease in broiler chickens â€“ C. perfringens counts were lower by 30-50 percent in the lupulone-treated group compared to an untreated group of chickens.
Based on the result, the potential for lupulone as an antibiotic alternative in poultry raising looks feasible, said the research team.
Certain bacteria in chicken intestines not only can cause contamination of meat during processing, but may also result in major production losses by causing disease in the broiler chicken.
Poultry producers currently use sub-therapeutic amounts of antibiotics in poultry feed as growth promoters and to control bacterial pathogens or parasites. However, bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics therefore ARS scientists are looking for alternatives.