Sign up now!
Don't show this again
Sweepstakes Rules

We’re glad you’re enjoying Poultry Health Today.
Access is free but you’ll need to register to view more content.
Already registered? Sign In
Tap to download the app
REPORTSCollect articles and features into your own report to read later, print or share with others

Create a New Report


Read Later

Create a new report

Report title (required) Brief description (optional)
follow us

You must be logged in to edit your profile.

Sponsored by Zoetis

Sponsored By Zoetis


Histopathology helping poultry plants use science to defend carcasses, minimize condemnations

Most people in live poultry production haven’t spent a lot of time reading about histopathology.  Still, veterinarians who specialize in diagnosing disease in animal tissues are spending more time in processing plants helping to minimize costly carcass condemnations while maintaining the company’s high standards for quality.

There are several reasons that processing plants might call in a veterinary pathologist, according to Fred Hoerr, DVM, PhD, who is a veterinary pathologist specializing in histopathology in processing plants.

“The call for histopathology when it comes to processing involves, usually, a company veterinarian or a manager that’s got some type of a problem in the processing plant,” says Hoerr, owner of Veterinary Diagnostics Pathology, LLC.

“They need help defining what the problem is so that everyone can meet the same goal of getting good, healthy, wholesome food into their supply line,” he told Poultry Health Today.

When the inspectors call

His phone tends to ring when inspectors for USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service are at the plant and condemning what the poultry company views as an inordinate number of whole carcasses.

“The company wants to make sure that they’re making the call correctly because they, of course, only want good, wholesome product, but also they don’t want food product to be going in the disposal bin.

“And so it becomes a matter of efficiency to get a good, objective third-party definition of what’s going on so that the right decisions can be made to make sure that product is handled properly.”

According to Hoerr, the most common problems are related to septox issues (septicemia or toxemia), with companies tending to want confirmation that calls are being made correctly.  That can be a challenge, especially in processing plants where there are fewer sampling opportunities

“Processing pathology is different than field diagnostic pathology,” he explained, referring to samples taken on broiler farms.

“With field diagnostic pathology, you’ve got a wide selection of samples that you can take, and you can really hone in on a problem and get to a diagnosis.

“With processing, it depends on what stage of the process you’re in. And in some of the advanced stages of processing, all of the viscera have been removed from the animal except for a few exceptions. So, your sampling of tissues is much smaller.”

Unbiased assessments

While it’s sometimes difficult to avoid, Hoerr said he prefers to make assessments without knowing opinions of processing plant staff, which could unintentionally bias his investigation.

Most times he’s summoned to plants at the height of a crisis — when plants are awaiting analysis and causing a backlog in freezers and with shipments.

To help the situation, giving a pathologist as much notice as possible is always helpful, Hoerr suggested. This allows a dialogue to begin about the best way to take and store samples.

“I increasingly work with quality control managers,” he said. “And I just want them to know that there are answers to the problems that they’re dealing with, and that there are people that can help them.

“A veterinarian with a microscope can do a lot to define what they’re seeing,” Hoerr added.  That can help to resolve their problems and, to the satisfaction of both the regulatory side and the producer side, “to make sure that they’re getting the best answer and putting the best product into the food supply.”


Shareicon Pht 1
Share It
Veterinarians specializing in diagnosing disease in animal tissue are spending more time in processing plants helping minimize costly carcass condemnations while maintaining high food quality standards.

Click an icon to share this information with your industry contacts.

Posted on February 24, 2021

tags: , , ,
  • Tips for uncovering toxicity in poultry flocks

    Toxicity is a relatively rare affliction for hens, and tracking down the source can prove challenging, as one case study outlined by a poultry diagnostics expert revealed.

  • Getting the best results from veterinary histopathology*

    by Susan Williams, DVM, PhD, ACPV Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

You must be logged in to edit your profile.

Google Translate is provided on this website as a reference tool. However, Poultry Health Today and its sponsor and affiliates do not guarantee in any way the accuracy of the translated content and are not responsible for any event resulting from the use of the translation provided by Google. By choosing a language other than English from the Google Translate menu, the user agrees to withhold all liability and/or damage that may occur to the user by depending on or using the translation by Google.