Prevalence and concentration of Campylobacter in rumen contents and feces in pasture and feedlot-fed cattle. Academic Article uri icon


  • Campylobacter are important human foodborne pathogens known to colonize the gastrointestinal tract of cattle. The incidence of Campylobacter in cattle may be seasonal and may vary among age groups and type (beef versus dairy). Less is known about other factors that could influence the prevalence, colonization site, and shedding of Campylobacter in cattle. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the prevalence and enumerate Campylobacter at two sites along the digestive tract of beef and dairy type cattle consuming either grass or feedlot diets. In an initial study, Campylobacter was not recovered from rumen samples of any of 10 ruminally cannulated (six dairy and four beef type) pasture-reared cattle and there was no difference (p > 0.05) between cattle types on fecal Campylobacter recovery, with 50% of each type yielding culture-positive feces (overall mean +/- SE, 0.75 +/- 0.001 SEM log(10) colony-forming units [CFU]/g feces). When calculated from Campylobacter culture-positive animals only, mean fecal concentrations were 1.50 +/- 0.001 SEM log(10) CFU/g. In a follow-up study with feedlot and pasture-reared cattle (n = 18 head each), 78% of rumen and 94% of fecal samples from pastured cattle were positive for Campylobacter while 50% of the rumen and 72% of the fecal samples were positive in concentrate-fed animals. Overall mean concentration of Campylobacter was greater in feces than ruminal fluid (p < 0.05). When only Campylobacter-positive animals were analyzed, concentrations recovered from feces were higher (p < 0.05) in concentrate-fed than in pasture-fed cattle (4.29 vs. 3.34 log(10) CFU/g, respectively; SEM = 0.29). Our results suggest that the rumen environment and its microbial population are less favorable for the growth of Campylobacter and that concentrate diets may provide a more hospitable lower gastrointestinal tract for Campylobacter.

published proceedings

  • Foodborne Pathog Dis

author list (cited authors)

  • Krueger, N. A., Anderson, R. C., Krueger, W. K., Horne, W. J., Wesley, I. V., Callaway, T. R., ... Nisbet, D. J.

citation count

  • 18

complete list of authors

  • Krueger, Nathan A||Anderson, Robin C||Krueger, Wimberley K||Horne, Willy J||Wesley, Irene V||Callaway, Todd R||Edrington, Tom S||Carstens, Gordon E||Harvey, Roger B||Nisbet, David J

publication date

  • January 2008