Protecting the Minnesota Turkey Population Two Threats at a Time

December 20, 2019

The story, "Protecting the Flock: Research Safeguards State Turkey Health," by Kevin Cross, on the University of Minnesota's Office of the Vice President for Research 'Inquiry: Exploring the Impact of University Research' blog, features VBS Professor and Pomeroy Endowed Chair Carol Cardona and VBS Associate Professor Tim Johnson. Dr. Johnson discusses the importance of finding antibiotic alternatives in order to prevent antibiotic resistance, where harmful bacteria can kill entire flocks, threaten farmer's  livelihoods, and cause problems for human health if infected meat is consumed.

Johnson explains, “Any antibiotic drug used at any time in animals or humans has the potential to drive the development of resistance and it varies a lot from drug to drug and bacteria to bacteria, but we certainly know that resistance will develop when you use drugs for an extended period of time.” Dr. Johnson feels the answer to this problem may be in finding the right way to populate the turkey microbiome.

In addition to antibiotic resistance, outbreaks are also a current threat facing turkeys. Dr. Cardona investigates the transmission of disease and how producers can avoid it through separating healthy birds from the source of infection to prevent future outbreaks.

These strong collaborations and communication between University research teams and Minnesota's poultry industry are helping researchers prepare for the next possible outbreak.“Regulators, academics, and industry need to work together because each of us only knows some piece of the puzzle,” Cardona said. “Together we can understand the whole thing.”