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Reduction of Escherichia Coli O157:H7 on Small-Scale Cow/Calf Operations Using Best Mangement Practices

Investigators
Jaroni, Divya
Institutions
Southern University
Start date
2010
End date
2013
Objective
  1. Determine educational gaps and assess production practices employed by small-scale cow/calf operations through survey-based research.
  2. Determine the factors affecting E. coli O157:H7 prevalence on small-scale cow/calf operations in Louisiana and Texas.
  3. Establish a training program on Best Management Practices (BMPs) and pre-harvest food safety for cow/calf producers across Louisiana and Texas.
  4. Validate the effectiveness of on-farm BMPs in reducing E. coli O157:H7 contamination in the cow/calf operation environments.
More information
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: This project is designed to enhance small-scale cattle farm competitiveness by reducing Escherichia coli O157:H7 in cattle prior to shipment to feedlots. Cattle are considered primary reservoirs of E. coli O157:H7, causing post-harvest cross-contamination of beef products. On-farm practices affect pathogen loads on cattle entering slaughter facilities. However, limited information is available on practices employed by small-scale cow/calf operations. Another limitation is effective implementation of control strategies and knowledge transfer to cattle industry. In response to this need, the project will: 1. Determine educational gaps and assess production practices employed by small-scale cow/calf operations through survey-based research. 2. Determine the factors affecting E. coli O157:H7 prevalence on small-scale cow/calf operations in Louisiana and Texas. 3. Establish a training program on Best Management Practices (BMPs) and pre-harvest food safety for cow/calf producers across Louisiana and Texas. 4. Validate the effectiveness of on-farm BMPs in reducing E. coli O157:H7 contamination in the cow/calf operation environments. Survey responses and prevalence study results will drive BMP guidelines and educational workshops, addressing the problem. Effectiveness of BMPs to control E. coli O157:H7 will be examined by training cow/calf producers and by following changes in pathogen loads on their farms after implementation of BMPs.

APPROACH: We will validate the effectiveness of BMPs in reducing E. coli O157:H7 on small-scale cow/calf operations resulting in a decrease in pathogen loads on calves entering the feedlots and abattoirs. Validation will be carried out in multiple locations in Louisiana and Texas by training beef producers on pre-harvest food safety and BMPs and following changes in pathogen loads on their farms after implementation of BMPs. Objective 1: Production practices will be assessed by sending out questionnaires to cow/calf producers across Louisiana and Texas to gather information on management practices related to feeding, water sources, equipment, cleaning and disinfection, farm-waste, pest-control, calving, and production parameters. The questionnaire will also be used to assess knowledge that beef producers have on the control, prevention, and transmission of E. coli O157:H7 in cattle and within the small farm environment. Objective 2: Based on the survey results, several small-scale cow/calf operations with varied production practices will be selected for sample collection to determine E. coli O157:H7 populations on the farm. Farm samples will include, fecal, water, feed and hide samples, along with feed-bin, and equipment swabs. Samples will be collected from each farm once every 2 months over a period of 6 months. Detection of E. coli O157:H7 in the samples will be done using standard culture and molecular methods. Quantitative concentration of E. coli O157:H7 will be determined using the method developed in earlier studies. Results will be used to determine on-farm practices that could be contributing to pathogen loads in the cattle and on the farm. Objective 3: Results from Objectives 1 and 2 will be used to determine educational gaps and to establish guidelines for BMPs that need to be implemented on these farms. These guidelines will include basic principles of cattle management such as provision of clean feed and water, sanitary handling of water and waste, proper drainage and maintenance of the environment, and freedom from vermin and pests, along with decontamination strategies, disinfection programs, and possible use of probiotic therapies. Following the preparation of guidelines, several training workshops will be held for small-scale cattle producers across Louisiana and Texas. These workshops will train the cow/calf operators on BMPs and their implementation on the farm and also on basic pre-harvest food safety principles. Objective 4: Following the training workshops, farms initially used to obtain samples for detection and quantification of E. coli O157:H7 would be revisited to evaluate effectiveness of the BMPs in reducing E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
LAX-06-5-20329
Accession number
220926
Categories
Education and Training
Prevention and Control
Escherichia coli