Feather segmentation to discriminate between different enrofloxacin treatments in order to monitor off-label use in the poultry sector


Antibiotics are commonly used in the poultry industry to treat bacterial infections. In the combat against bacterial resistance, policies require, besides a reduction of antibiotic usage in humans and animals, an up-to-date farmer registration mentioning all treatments. For enforcement of such policies, tests are needed to antedate administration and to determine the type of treatment so as to prevent off-label use and the supervacaneous use of last-resort antibiotics like cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones. After poultry treatment, high amounts of enrofloxacin and its metabolite ciprofloxacin are deposited in chicken feathers. A method is presented to discriminate different treatments based on differentiating extractable and non-extractable enrofloxacin and ciprofloxacin in chicken feathers. With this approach, we show it is possible to distinguish between a registered therapeutic oral treatment, an off-label spray treatment and an illegal prolonged sub-therapeutic treatment with enrofloxacin. This approach is a new and strong tool in the enforcement of new policies in the fight against off-label and supervacaneous antibiotic use.

Therapeutic treatment

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Ethylenediaminetetra-acetic acid




Formic acid


Liquid chromatography




Mass spectrometry


Trifluoroacetic acid


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This research was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs under its statutory tasks (project number We thank Maria Groot for her assistance in designing the animal study.

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Correspondence to Larissa J. M. Jansen.

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Jansen, L.J.M., Bolck, Y.J.C. & Berendsen, B.J.A. Feather segmentation to discriminate between different enrofloxacin treatments in order to monitor off-label use in the poultry sector. Anal Bioanal Chem 408, 495–502 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-015-9118-z

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  • Antibiotics
  • Enrofloxacin
  • Feathers
  • Treatments
  • Antedating
  • LC-MS/MS