Fecal shedding of coliform bacteria during the periparturient period in dairy cows

Lisa S. Pelan-Mattocks Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.

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Marcus E. Kehrli Jr Metabolic Diseases and Immunology Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, USDA-ARS, Ames, IA 50010.
Present address is Pfizer Global Research and Development, Veterinary Medicine Pharmaceutical Discovery, Terre Haute Laboratories, Terre Haute, IN 47808.

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Thomas A. Casey Metabolic Diseases and Immunology Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, USDA-ARS, Ames, IA 50010.

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Jesse P. Goff Metabolic Diseases and Immunology Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, USDA-ARS, Ames, IA 50010.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine whether numbers of coliform bacteria in feces of dairy cattle changed during the periparturient period and whether fluctuations were associated with changes in dry-matter intake.

Animals—12 healthy Holstein cows.

Procedure—Fecal samples were collected on a semiregular basis (ie, 3 to 7 times/wk) beginning 4 to 6 weeks before the anticipated parturition date and continuing through the third day (5 cows) or second week (7 cows) after parturition, and total numbers of fecal coliform bacteria were determined. Daily feed intake of 7 cows was monitored.

Results—For 11 cows, fecal coliform bacterial counts between 34 and 25 days prior to parturition were low and relatively constant (< 102 change in number of bacteria). Coliform bacteria were not detected in 4 to 8% of fecal samples from 10 cows. All cows had a 104 to 107 increase in number of colony forming units/g of feces near the time of parturition. Number of fecal coliform bacteria peaked within 7 days of parturition in 9 cows and within 12 days of parturition in 3. Number of fecal coliform bacteria was not correlated with feed intake.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Cows may have large increases in fecal coliform bacteria count during the periparturient period; however, periparturient cows do not continually shed high numbers of coliform bacteria, and coliform bacteria may not always be detectable by conventional culture methods. Changes in fecal coliform bacteria count did not correlate with changes in dry-matter intake. (Am J Vet Res 2000;61:1636–1638)

Abstract

Objective—To determine whether numbers of coliform bacteria in feces of dairy cattle changed during the periparturient period and whether fluctuations were associated with changes in dry-matter intake.

Animals—12 healthy Holstein cows.

Procedure—Fecal samples were collected on a semiregular basis (ie, 3 to 7 times/wk) beginning 4 to 6 weeks before the anticipated parturition date and continuing through the third day (5 cows) or second week (7 cows) after parturition, and total numbers of fecal coliform bacteria were determined. Daily feed intake of 7 cows was monitored.

Results—For 11 cows, fecal coliform bacterial counts between 34 and 25 days prior to parturition were low and relatively constant (< 102 change in number of bacteria). Coliform bacteria were not detected in 4 to 8% of fecal samples from 10 cows. All cows had a 104 to 107 increase in number of colony forming units/g of feces near the time of parturition. Number of fecal coliform bacteria peaked within 7 days of parturition in 9 cows and within 12 days of parturition in 3. Number of fecal coliform bacteria was not correlated with feed intake.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Cows may have large increases in fecal coliform bacteria count during the periparturient period; however, periparturient cows do not continually shed high numbers of coliform bacteria, and coliform bacteria may not always be detectable by conventional culture methods. Changes in fecal coliform bacteria count did not correlate with changes in dry-matter intake. (Am J Vet Res 2000;61:1636–1638)

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