Comparative analysis on antibiotic resistance characteristics of Listeria spp. and Enterococcus spp. isolated from laying hens and eggs in conventional and organic keeping systems in Bavaria, Germany

Zoonoses Public Health. 2010 May;57(3):171-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1863-2378.2008.01229.x.


By investigating the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance characteristics of Gram-positive bacteria from organic and conventional keeping systems of laying hens, it was to be determined to what extent these properties are influenced by the different systems. For this purpose, a total of 799 cloacal swabs and 800 egg samples were examined. Prevalences for all selected bacteria from cloacal swabs were much the same for both organic and caged birds: Listeria spp.1.3%[org] versus 1.6%[con]; Enterococcus spp. 95.5%[org] versus 97.5%[con]. Egg contents and eggshells were generally contaminated to a lesser extent, primarily with Enterococcus spp. Listeria isolates were susceptible to almost all tested antibiotics, only three Listeria innocua from conventional keepings were resistant to clindamycin; one isolate additionally to imipenem. High percentages of Enterococcus faecalis were resistant to doxycycline and macrolides. Enterococcus faecium proved to have high resistance rates to clindamycin, fosfomycin and erythromycin; 9.1% were even resistant to the reserve antibiotic synercid. Further, Enterococcus spp. showed higher resistance rates to doxycycline, erythromycin, fosfomycin and rifampicin. No glycopeptide resistant enterococci were detected. A correlation between keeping system and resistance/susceptibility rates could be demonstrated. In detail, E. faecalis from organic laying hen husbandries showed significant lower resistance prevalences to tylosin, streptomycin and doxycycline; susceptibility rates were higher for enrofloxacin and ciprofloxacin. Rifampicin and imipenem were more effective in isolates from conventional keepings (P < 0.05). The amounts of resistant isolates of the Enterococcus raffinosus from organic farms were significantly lower, the amounts of sensitive isolates were significantly higher than from conventional farms concerning eight antibiotics (P < 0.05). When comparing the susceptibility/resistance rates, as well as the mean minimum inhibitory concentrations values, the consistent tendency is that bacteria from organic layer flocks are more susceptible to antimicrobials. These results show that organic livestock farming plays a part in contributing to reduced antibiotic resistance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry / methods
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Chickens / microbiology
  • Cloaca / microbiology
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial
  • Eggs / microbiology*
  • Enterococcus / drug effects*
  • Enterococcus / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / transmission
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / veterinary*
  • Listeria / drug effects*
  • Listeria / isolation & purification
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Poultry Diseases / drug therapy
  • Poultry Diseases / microbiology*
  • Poultry Diseases / transmission
  • Zoonoses


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents