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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Meat Safety and Quality » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #248743

Title: Soil Versus Pond Ash Surfacing of Feedlot Pens: Occurrence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Cattle and Persistence in Manure

item Berry, Elaine
item Wells, James - Jim
item Arthur, Terrance
item Woodbury, Bryan
item Nienaber, John
item Brown-Brandl, Tami
item Eigenberg, Roger

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/14/2010
Publication Date: 8/1/2010
Citation: Berry, E.D., Wells, J., Arthur, T.M., Woodbury, B.L., Nienaber, J.A., Brown Brandl, T.M., Eigenberg, R.A. 2010. Soil Versus Pond Ash Surfacing of Feedlot Pens: Occurrence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Cattle and Persistence in Manure. Journal of Food Protection. 73(7):1269-1277.

Interpretive Summary: Cattle are an important source of E. coli O157:H7, a pathogen that can cause human foodborne illness. Reducing this pathogen in cattle will require understanding the factors that affect the infection and shedding of E. coli O157:H7 by cattle. The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of pond ash feedlot pen surfaces, in comparison to soil surfaces, on the presence and the amount of E. coli O157:H7 in the feces, on the hides, and in the manure of cattle. Pond ash is a low-cost byproduct of the burning of coal for electricity production. Pond ash provides a hard, more stable surface when packed into layers, and is being examined as an alternative feedlot pen floor surface. One advantage of this stable pen surface is that the accumulated manure is more easily removed in comparison to soil-surfaced pens. Another advantage of pond ash is that it provides a more solid base during times of heavy rains, and it may reduce the stresses on cattle that are associated with muddy cattle pens, such as loss of footing, wading through mud, and disease. There were no differences in E. coli O157:H7 in feces, on hides, or in manure of cattle housed on pond ash or soil feedlot pen surfaces, indicating that pond ash as a pen surface does not contribute to the food safety risk associated with cattle that carry E. coli O157:H7.

Technical Abstract: Reducing Escherichia coli O157:H7 in cattle and their manure is critical for reducing the risk for food- and waterborne illness. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of soil- or pond ash-surfaced feedlot pens on the prevalence, levels, and/or persistence of E. coli O157:H7 and generic E. coli in cattle (feces and hides) and manure. Cattle (128 beef heifers) were sorted among 16 pens, of which eight pens each were surfaced with soil or pond ash. The prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in feces decreased (P < 0.0001) during the study, from 57.0% on day 0 to 3.9% on day 84, but did not differ (P greater than or equal to 0.05) between cattle on soil- or pond ash-surfaced pens at any sampling period. Correspondingly, the prevalence of the pathogen on hides and in feedlot surface material (FSM) also decreased (P < 0.0001), with no effect of soil or pond ash surface (P greater than or equal to 0.05). Similarly, levels of generic E. coli in FSM did not differ (P greater than or equal to 0.05) at any sampling period, and there were no clear trends for survival differences of E. coli O157:H7 or generic E. coli in FSM between pond ash and soil surfaces, although E. coli populations survived at levels of 5.0 log**10** CFU/g of FSM on the pen surfaces six weeks after the cattle were removed.