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Journal Articles Animal Microbiome Year : 2020

Temporal dynamics of the fecal microbiota in veal calves in a 6-month field trial


Abstract Background Little is known about maturation of calves’ gut microbiome in veal farms, in which animals are confined under intensive-farming conditions and the administration of collective antibiotic treatment in feed is common. We conducted a field study on 45 calves starting seven days after their arrival in three veal farms. We collected monthly fecal samples over six months and performed 16S rRNA gene sequencing and quantitative PCR of Escherichia coli to follow the dynamics of their microbiota, including that of their commensal E. coli populations. We used mixed-effect models to characterize the dynamics of α-diversity indices and numbers of E. coli , and searched for an effect of collective antibiotic treatments on the estimated parameters. On two farms, we also searched for associations between recommended daily doses of milk powder and bacterial abundance. Results There was high heterogeneity between calves’ microbiota upon their arrival at the farms, followed by an increase in similarity, starting at the first month. From the second month, 16 genera were detected at each sampling in all calves, representing 67.5% (± 9.9) of their microbiota. Shannon diversity index showed a two-phase increase, an inflection occurring at the end of the first month. Calves receiving antibiotics had a lower intercept estimate for Shannon index (− 0.17 CI 95% [-0.27; − -0.06], p = 0.003) and a smaller number of E. coli / gram of feces during the treatment and in the 15 days following it (− 0.37 log 10 ( E. coli /g) CI 95% [− 0.66; − 0.08], p = 0.01) than unexposed calves. There were moderate to strong positive associations between the dose of milk powder and the relative abundances of the genera Megasphaera, Enterococcus, Dialister and Mitsuokella , and the number of E. coli (r s ≥ 0.40; Bonferroni corrected p < 0.05). Conclusions This observational study shows early convergence of the developing microbiota between veal calves and associations between the dose of milk powder and members of their microbiota. It suggests that administration of collective antibiotic treatment results in a reduction of microbial diversity and size of the E. coli population and highlights the need for additional work to fully understand the impact of antibiotic treatment in the veal industry.
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Dates and versions

anses-03992681 , version 1 (16-02-2023)



Méril Massot, Marisa Haenni, Thu Thuy Nguyen, Jean-Yves Madec, France Mentré, et al.. Temporal dynamics of the fecal microbiota in veal calves in a 6-month field trial. Animal Microbiome, 2020, 2 (1), pp.32. ⟨10.1186/s42523-020-00052-6⟩. ⟨anses-03992681⟩
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