Shifts in bacterial communities in the rumen, vagina, and uterus of beef heifers receiving different levels of concentrate. Academic Article uri icon


  • This experiment investigated the effects of diet composition on rumen, vaginal, and uterine microbiota of beef heifers. Fifteen rumen-cannulated, pubertal Angus-influenced heifers were used in a replicated 3 3 Latin square design (28-d periods and 21-d washout intervals). Dietary treatments included diets based on (as-fed) 100% grass hay (HF), 60% grass hay + 40% corn-based concentrate (INT), or 25% grass hay + 75% corn-based concentrate (HG). Treatments were offered individually to heifers once daily at 2% body weight. Rumen, vaginal, and uterine samples were collected on days 0 and 28 of each period. Data were analyzed using orthogonal contrasts (linear and quadratic), using results from day 0 as independent covariates and heifer as the experimental unit. Ruminal pH on day 28 decreased linearly (P < 0.01) as concentrate inclusion increased. Uterine and vaginal pH on day 28 were not affected by treatments (P 0.35). Within the rumen samples, Bacteriodetes was the most abundant phylum and its relative abundance linearly decreased (P 0.01) with the inclusion of concentrate. Prevotella was the most abundant genus within the rumen but was not affected by treatments (P 0.44). Genera with relative abundance 1% (average across treatments) in the rumen that were impacted by treatments (P 0.01) included Bacteroides, Pedobacter, Dysgonomonas, Caloramator, and Ruminococcus. Firmicutes was the most abundant phylum in the vagina and uterus, but it was unaffected by treatments (P 0.16). Prevotella was the most abundant genus in the vagina, and its relative abundance increased (P < 0.01) with the inclusion of concentrate. Other genera with relative abundance 1% that were significantly affected (P 0.05) by treatments were Clostridium, Pedobacter, Roseburia, Oscillospira, Faecalibacterium, Caloramator, Paludibacter, Rhodothermus, and Porphyromonas. In uterine samples, Prevotella was the most abundant genus but was unaffected by treatments (P 0.29). Genera with relative abundance 1% in the uterus that were significantly affected (P < 0.01) by treatments were Caloramator, Paludibacter, and Thalassospira. Collectively, inclusion of concentrate in the diet altered the bacterial composition within the rumen as well as shifting bacterial populations within the vagina and uterus. Research is warranted to further understand the impacts of these diet-induced microbiota changes on reproductive function and performance of beef heifers.

published proceedings

  • J Anim Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Pickett, A. T., Cooke, R. F., Mackey, S. J., Brando, A. P., Colombo, E. A., Oliveira Filho, R. V., ... Poole, R. K.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Pickett, Autumn T||Cooke, Reinaldo F||Mackey, Shea J||Brandão, Alice P||Colombo, Eduardo A||Oliveira Filho, Ramiro V||de Melo, Gabriela Dalmaso||Pohler, Ky G||Poole, Rebecca K

publication date

  • January 2022