Effects of feed-supplementation and hide-spray application of two sources of tannins on enteric and hide bacteria of feedlot cattle

J Environ Sci Health B. 2011;46(4):360-5. doi: 10.1080/03601234.2011.559419.


Pathogenic bacteria attached to the hide or shed in the feces of cattle at slaughter can contaminate carcasses intended to be processed for human consumption. Therefore, new pre-harvest interventions are needed to prevent the carriage and excretion of foodborne pathogens in cattle presented to the processing plant. The objectives of this study were to examine the antimicrobial effects of hydrolysable tannin-rich chestnut and condensed tannin-rich mimosa extracts on bacterial indicators of foodborne pathogens when applied as a hide-intervention and as a feed additive to feedlot cattle. Water (control) or solutions (3 % wt/vol) of chestnut- and mimosa-extract treatments were sprayed (25 mL) at the left costal side of each animal to a 1000 cm² area, divided in four equal quadrants. Hide-swabs samples obtained at pre-, 2-min, 8-h, and 24-h post-spray application were cultured to enumerate Escherichia coli/total coliforms and total aerobic plate counts. In a second experiment, diets supplemented without (controls) or with (1.5 % of diet dry matter) chestnut- or mimosa-extracts were fed during a 42-day experimental feeding period. Weekly fecal samples starting on day 0, and rumen fluid obtained on days 0, 7, 21 or 42 were cultured to enumerate E.coli/total coliforms and Campylobacter. Tannin spray application showed no effect of treatment or post-application-time (P > 0.05) on measured bacterial populations, averaging 1.7/1.8, 1.5/1.6 and 1.5/1.7 (log₁₀CFU/cm²) for E. coli/total coliforms, and 4.0, 3.4 and 4.2 (log₁₀CFU/cm²) in total aerobes for control, chestnut and mimosa treatments, respectively. Mean (± SEM) ruminal E. coli and total coliform concentrations (log(10) CFU/mL) were reduced (P < 0.01) in steers fed chestnut-tannins (3.6 and 3.8 ± 0.1) in comparison with the controls (4.1 and 4.2 ± 0.1). Fecal E. coli concentrations were affected by treatment (P< 0.01), showing the highest values (log₁₀ CFU/g) in fecal contents from mimosa-fed steers compared to controls (5.9 versus 5.6 ± 0.1 SEM, respectively). Total coliforms (log CFU/g) showed the highest values (P < 0.01) in feces from chestnut- and mimosa-fed steers (6.0 and 6.1 ± 0.1 respectively) in comparison with controls (5.7 ± 0.1). Fecal Campylobacter concentrations (log₁₀CFU/g) were affected by treatment (P < 0.05), day (P < 0.001) and their interaction (P < 0.01) with the controls having lower concentrations than chestnut- and mimosa-fed steers (0.4, 1.0, and 0.8 ± 0.3, respectively). It was concluded that under our research conditions, tannins were not effective in decreasing measured bacterial populations on beef cattle hides. Additionally, chestnut tannin reduced E. coli and total coliforms within the rumen but the antimicrobial effect was not maintained in the lower gastrointestinal tract. Further research is necessary to elucidate the possible antimicrobial effects of tannins at site-specific locations of the gastrointestinal tract in beef cattle fed high-grain and high-forage diets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acacia / chemistry
  • Animal Feed / microbiology*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / drug effects
  • Campylobacter / drug effects*
  • Cattle
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Enterobacteriaceae / drug effects*
  • Fagaceae / chemistry
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Meat / microbiology*
  • Rumen / microbiology
  • Tannins / chemistry
  • Tannins / pharmacology*
  • Texas


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Tannins