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From the News Archives ...

Hay feeding does indeed reduce acid-resistant E. coli, says Nebraska Beef Report

In 1998, researchers Diez-Gonzalez and colleagues from Cornell University drew worldwide attention when they reported that switching cattle from grain to grass lowered the production of acid-resistant E. coli bacteria. Acid-resistant E. coli are believed to be much more difficult for humans to combat. The fact that keeping animals on pasture might protect consumers from E. coli was very good news, indeed.

Since publication of the Cornell study, however, these results have been contested by a number of groups, including researchers at the University of Idaho. Now a study by the USDA Meat and Animal Research Center in Lincoln, Nebraska supports the Cornell findings. The Nebraska researchers began their investigation by trying to find alternative feeding strategies to combat acid-resistant E. coli, contending that hay feeding "is not a practical approach for cattle feeders." Unfortunately, none of their experimental approaches worked. When they switched the animals to hay, however, they found that the more natural diet did indeed have the desired effect. The researchers concluded: "This study confirms Diez-Gonzalez (1998) report that feeding hay for a short duration can reduce acid-resistant E. coli populations." Score one for Mother Nature.

"Influence of Diet on Total and Acid Resistant E. coli and Colonic pH." Tony Scott, Klopfenstein, T., et al." 2000 Nebraska Beef Report, pages 39-41. Read the report in its entirety. The report is in PDF format.


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