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J Appl Microbiol. 1999 Mar;86(3):531-6.

Intermittent shedding of thermophilic campylobacters by sheep at pasture.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Lancaster University, UK.


The rates at which sheep on different types of pasture shed campylobacters in their faeces were measured over 12 months. Overall, shedding of campylobacters at pasture was between a third and a half of the carriage rate (92%) of the intestines of sheep at slaughter. Shedding was highest during saltmarsh grazing, followed by upland fell and farm grazing. The rate of shedding varied at different times of the year, with the highest rates (100%) coinciding with lambing, weaning, and movement onto new pasture. The lowest rates (0%) occurred when sheep were fed on hay and silage. On the farm, low rates occurred during the whole of gestation, both when the sheep were indoors and outdoors. Campylobacter jejuni was the main species isolated and survived for up to 4 d in sheep faeces. Lambs became colonized by Campylobacter within 1-5 d of being born. Ewes, which were not shedding campylobacters prior to lambing, started to shed after lambing, and ewes which were shedding low numbers of Campylobacter before lambing, increased the numbers of bacteria being shed after lambing.

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