Two experiments were conducted to evaluate the feeding of direct fed microbials (DFMs) on fecal shedding of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in naturally infected cattle (experiment I) and on Salmonella in the feces and peripheral lymph nodes (PLNs) of experimentally infected cattle (experiment II). Thirty cattle, 10 per treatment, were used in each experiment. Treatments in experiment I consisted of a control (lactose carrier only); DFM1, a 1:1 ratio of Enterococcus faecium and Lactobacillus animalis; and DFM2, a 1:1 ratio of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Pediococcus acidilactici. In Experiment II, DFM1 was replaced with DFM3, a 1:2 ratio of Lactobacillus reuteri and other Lactobacillus strains. Additives were mixed in water and applied as a top-dressing to each pen's daily ration for 50 days. Approximately half-way through each experiment, the DFM concentration was doubled for the remainder of the study. Fecal samples were collected throughout experiment I and cultured for E. coli O157:H7. Cattle in experiment II were inoculated intradermally with Salmonella Montevideo on days 32, 37, and 42 and then necropsied on days 49 and 50 (five cattle per treatment on each day). Innate immune function was assessed on days 29, 49, and 50. In experiment I, fecal concentration and prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 were not different (P > 0.10) nor was there an effect (P = 0.95) on the percentage of super shedders (cattle shedding ≥3.0 log CFU/g of feces). In experiment II, no treatment differences (P > 0.05) were observed for Salmonella in the PLNs except for the inguinal nodes, which had a significantly lower Salmonella prevalence in DFM-supplemented cattle than in the controls. Immune function, as measured by monocyte nitric oxide production and neutrophil oxidative burst, was decreased (P < 0.05) in the DFM treatment groups. Although results of this research indicate little to no effect of these DFMs on E. coli O157:H7 or Salmonella in cattle, an increase in the duration of administration to that similar to what is used for commercial cattle might elicit treatment differences.

  • Direct fed microbials were evaluated for pathogen mitigation in cattle.

  • No treatment effects on fecal shedding of E. coli O157:H7 were observed.

  • DFM treatment reduced Salmonella in only one the four lymph node types examined.

  • Under these experimental conditions, short-term feeding of DFMs failed to mitigate pathogens.

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