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Strain typing of pathogens: what is E. coli?

By Tim Johnson, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota

Editor's note:  This is part 2 of a 3-part series written for Gobbles, the official publication of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. 

E. coli-associated diseases are perhaps the most recognized, yet least understood of all the bacterial diseases of turkeys. The disease is collectively referred to as colibacillosis, but includes many syndromes ranging from skin infections through systemic disease involving bloodstream infection. Most producers are very good at identifying birds impacted by E. coli. However, the underlying issues regarding how and why disease occurred are complex.
1. E. coli is mainly a secondary disease, but… It is true that the majority of birds impacted by E. coli disease are the result of some other primary insult (i.e., a viral pathogen, air quality issues, or other stress issues). However, not all E. coli are created equal. Most E. coli from turkeys are “commensal,” meaning they are not …
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Enroll in online Backyard Chicken course at the U

Dr. Anup Johny will lead a online course titled, Backyard Chickens: Science and Practice during the spring 2019 semester.

Backyard Chickens - Science and Practice is an online course designed to meet the needs of students interested in understanding chickens in general, and for those who engage or are planning to engage in small scale farming of chickens. This course, expanded over 6 modules; (1) Basic biology and behavior (2) Selection (3) Housing (4) Nutrition (5) Management and (6) Diseases as it relates to chickens, will help the students understand the basic science of rearing chickens. Each of the six modules encompasses pertinent short video or PowerPoint lectures that provide fundamental and applied information on backyard chicken rearing. Students will also be introduced to public health, environmental and societal impacts of urban chicken raising.
This course is an undergraduate level course and will run January 22 - May 6, 2019. 
Dr. Johny invites anyone interested in thi…

Strain typing of pathogens: how do Salmonella emerge in poultry?

By Tim Johnson  Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota

Editor's note:  This is part 3 of a 3-part series written for Gobbles, the official publication of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.  It is being published here prior to printing of Gobbles because of the current events involving Salmonella in the poultry industries.
Salmonella is on everyone’s mind, with recent declared outbreaks by the CDC of Salmonella Reading in turkeys and Salmonella Infantis in chickens. It can be a bit perplexing for the producer to understand why the ecology of Salmonella changes so dramatically, when nothing has changed from a management perspective. In order to understand what might have changed, we first have to consider basic Salmonella ecology and how it impacts into our understanding of what has happened.
1. Salmonella can change very quickly through gene transfer. What is the fastest way for Salmonella populations to change? The answer lies in its genome. Salmonella, like E.…

Biosecurity key to minimizing spread of Avian Influenza this fall

By Abby Neu, Extension Educator – Poultry, Carol Cardona, Extension specialist, poultry virologist and Sally Noll, Extension poultry scientist

November 1, 2018
Through diligent surveillance, two Minnesota turkey farms have detected low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI). Minnesota has been influenza-free for the last 42 months. These incidents should make every poultry employee, manager and owner step-back and think about possible complacency in their biosecurity practices.

An influenza virus needs a host in order to grow and Minnesota has plenty of hosts to offer within our poultry industry and thriving waterfowl habitats. Clinical symptoms for LPAI are minimal with no physical symptoms while some birds may exhibit respiratory distress.

The particular strain of influenza currently present is H5N2. An H5 virus has potential to mutate into a more serious strain of the virus. This can happen because the virus becomes stronger with each new host (individual bird), and it takes a less i…

An Overview of Small-Scale Poultry Farming Systems

By Renae Larson
University of Minnesota Extension – Poultry Communications Intern

In the United States, there are many different levels of poultry production systems ranging from small-scale to large-scale. Over the last couple of years, there has been an increasing number of small-scale poultry farming systems popping up across the country. A small-scale system can house as few as two birds or as many as a couple hundred of birds. Researchers at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina studied the nutritional, environmental and social impacts of small-scale systems.

The management process of small-scale poultry farming systems most commonly involve pasture grazing, processing the birds on the farm, and selling the meat at local markets. The goals of these systems not only focus on maximizing yield and maintaining sustainable production and profit but also are meant to provide social impacts and environmental benefits to their land.

The Appalachian University resear…

Strain typing of pathogens: how to choose?

By Tim Johnson Associate Professor, University of Minnesota

If you have dealt with bacterial disease on a poultry farm, you are probably familiar with terms like “serotyping”, “fingerprinting”, or “DNA sequencing”. The purpose of these techniques is to study strains of bacteria – for each bacteria like E. coli, there are thousands of different strains. Understanding differences between strains helps to track bacteria in a system and identify control strategies. All of the strain typing methods mentioned above are commonly used to understand the spread of a bacterial strain during a disease outbreak. However, different tests provide different information, and it is important to understand nuances between tests. Serotyping is based upon proteins on the surface of the bacteria. This has been used for many years to classify bacteria. For some bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, this is very effective because serotype correlates with the genetics of the bacteria. However, in other bacteri…

My First 4-H Experience

By Renae Larson, Extension Poultry Communications Intern


As a Communications Intern for the Extension Poultry team, I’m learning that working for Extension is fast-paced, collaborative and rewarding. Extension professionals wear many hats, which is giving me the opportunity to engage in various projects this summer.
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending one of the 4-H Livestock Day Camps in Farmington, accompanying Abby Neu, Poultry Extension Educator, with presenting biosecurity education using the BEET unit, Biosecure Entry Education Trailer. Minnesota 4-H is a learn-by-doing youth development program delivered by Extension throughout the state. 4-H’ers attend camps and complete projects in areas like health, science, agriculture, and citizenship, where they learn from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles.



Since I’ve never been a 4-Her, I had no idea what to expect out of the camp. Many of my U of M classmates in Agricultural Communications…