The disposition of oxytetracycline to feathers after poultry treatment

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    In the combat against bacterial resistance, there is a clear need to check the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry, including poultry breeding. The use of chicken feathers as a tool for the detection of use of antibiotics was investigated. An extraction method for the analysis of oxytetracycline (OTC) from feathers was developed and was tested by using incurred feathers obtained from a controlled animal treatment study. The use of McIlvain-ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid buffer only in combination with acetone gave the highest extraction yield, indicating the need of an organic solvent for feather extraction. By using the developed method, it was found that after a withdrawal time, the OTC concentration in feathers is in the mg kg(-1) range, far higher than that in muscle and liver tissue. Based on the analysis of individual segments of feathers from OTC-treated chicken, evidence was found supporting the hypothesis of secretion of antibiotics through the uropygial gland and external spread over feathers by grooming behaviour. It was also found that part of the administered OTC is built into the feather rachis. Finally, we provide the first evidence that the analysis of individual segments of the rachis can be used as a tool to discriminate among different treatment strategies, for example, therapeutic versus subtherapeutic. As a result, we concluded that the analysis of feathers is an extremely valuable tool in residue analysis of antibiotics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2102-2107
    JournalFood Additives & Contaminants. Pt. A, Chemistry, Analysis, Control, Exposure & Risk Assessment
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • tandem mass-spectrometry
    • growth-promoting agents
    • residue analysis
    • veterinary drugs
    • bovine
    • feed


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