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Impact of Transportation of Feedlot Cattle to the Harvest Facility on the Prevalence of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Total Aerobic Microorganisms on Hides

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Prevalences of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and total aerobic microorganisms were determined on the hides of beef feedlot cattle before and after transport from the feedyard to the harvest facility in clean and dirty trailers. Swab samples were taken from the midline and withers of 40 animals on each of 8 days before and after shipping. After samples were collected, animals were loaded in groups of 10 on upper and lower levels of clean and dirty trailers. Animals were unloaded at the harvest facility and kept in treatment groups for sample collection after exsanguination. Salmonella was found more often on hide swabs collected from the midline than on than samples collected from the withers from animals transported in both clean and dirty trailers. Salmonella was found on significantly more hide swabs collected at harvest from both sampling locations than on those collected at the feedyard, with no differences attributed to the type of trailer. At the feedyard, clean trucks had a lower percentage of Salmonella-positive samples than did dirty trucks before animals were loaded. However, after transport, both clean and dirty trucks had a similar prevalence of Salmonella. There were no differences in Salmonella prevalence on hides collected from animals transported on the top and bottom levels of clean and dirty trucks. E. coli O157:H7 was detected on less than 2% of the samples; therefore, no practical conclusions about prevalence could be drawn. Hides sampled at harvest had higher concentrations of aerobic microorganisms than did hides sampled at the feedyard, and concentrations were higher on the midline than on the withers. Although the prevalences of Salmonella and total aerobic microorganisms increased on hides after transport from the feedyard to the plant, this increase was not related to the cleanliness of the trailers or the location of the cattle in the trailers.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Animal and Food Sciences, PO Box 42141, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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