Agricultural Research Service scientists at the Agroecosystems Management Research Unit in Lincoln, Nebraska, have been conducting some very thorough investigations on the microbes that dwell in cattle manure—what they are, where they thrive, where they struggle, and where they may end up.

“When we look at potential pathogens that can cause foodborne illness, we need to look at the whole bacterial ecosystem,” says ARS microbiologist Lisa Durso. “For instance, some people used to think all cattle have the same bacteria in their gastrointestinal [GI] tracts. But we’ve found some big differences; so if we say, ‘Oh, it’s just manure,’ we could miss important factors in pathogen control.”

That’s why Durso headed up a study that provided the firstever “gold standard” accounting of the fecal bacterial types associated with beef cattle.

Using fecal samples from six beef cattle, Durso identified a core set of bovine GI bacterial groups common to both beef and dairy cattle.

Read more about the research in “Studying Manure in Cows, in Feedlots, and in Fields” in the February 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Source: Agricultural Research, February 2013