As the pressure to ease antibiotic use in animal agriculture rises within Canada, industry faces the considerable challenge of finding effective alternatives to protect animal health and food safety. Luckily for BC’s poultry industry, a new tool developed by Cedar Biotech promises to help treat and prevent a variety of diseases in both farms and processing facilities.

Derived from the Western red cedar, thuja plicata and possessing unique anti-microbial properties, Cedar Biotech diffuses Cedar Leaf Oil into vapour form to provide safe and environmentally-friendly building-wide treatment and decontamination.

With funding through the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program, Cedar Biotech initiated a series of field tests to demonstrate that Cedar Leaf Oil Vapour (CLOV) can offer commercial poultry producers and processors with a cost-effective biosecurity tool.

According to Kelly Crosby, president and founder of Cedar Biotech, the project trials were successful in demonstrating that their patented CLOV diffuser significantly reduced both airborne and surface bacteria and viruses, including Salmonella and E. coli contamination.

“We’ve now validated the potential of CLOV to reduce chicken mortality rates, improve grower returns, help producers become antibiotic-free and decrease the use of harmful chemicals,” says Crosby, adding that the cost to install and operate the system is offset by the premium paid for antibiotic-free chicken.

During a six-week trial, Nutrichick Feed Consulting witnessed the CLOV difference firsthand, with the diffuser applied to its antibiotic-free chicken barn. By the end of the trial, the Abbotsford broiler farm achieved lower mortality and higher average weight than previous trials without CLOV.

“Lowering the birds’ exposure to pathogens is an essential part of growing healthy flocks,” explains Traci Wautier, nutritionist with Nutrichick. “CLOV provides us with an effective alternative to chemical cleaners that has proven to lower mortality and improve performance.”

And when it came to the processing sector, the results were similarly promising.

Crosby selected a local facility with readings of campylobacter detected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency four times over the four months prior to installing the CLOV system. Post-installation, no discernable levels were evident, and the diffuser continues to remain in operation.

“The vapour is able to get into areas which are difficult to clean in equipment as well as providing hourly control,” says Crosby. “This allows poultry processors to control bacteria and fungi which enhances both food safety and product shelf-life.”

The CLOV project has since become an area of considerable interest for the poultry industry, not only within Canada but for other countries anxious to control pathogens from farm to table. Cedar Biotech is currently working with Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to explore the potential of CLOV in controlling H1N1 in its poultry sector.

Funding: $146,000 provided by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through Growing Forward 2, a former federal-provincial-territorial initiative (INN319).