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J Dairy Sci. 2007 Feb;90(2):928-36.

Concentrations of butyric acid bacteria spores in silage and relationships with aerobic deterioration.

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1
Department of Health and Safety, NIZO Food Research, PO Box 20, 6710 BA Ede, The Netherlands. marc.vissers@nizo.nl

Abstract

Germination and growth of spores of butyric acid bacteria (BAB) may cause severe defects in semihard cheeses. Silage is the main source of BAB spores in cheese milk. The objectives of the study were to determine the significance of grass silages and corn silages as sources of BAB spores and to investigate the relationships between high concentrations of BAB spores in corn silage and aerobic deterioration. In the first survey, samples were taken from various locations in silos containing grass and corn silages and from mixed silages in the ration offered to the cows on 21 farms. We demonstrated that the quantity of BAB spores consumed by cows was determined by a small fraction of silage with a high concentration of spores (above 5 log10 BAB/g). High concentrations were most often found in corn silage within areas with visible molds (69% of the samples). Areas with visible molds in grass silage and surface layers of corn silage contained, respectively, 21 and 19% of the cases of concentrations above 5 log10 BAB spores/g. Based on these results, we concluded that currently in the Netherlands, corn silage is a more important source of BAB than is grass silage. In a second survey, 8 corn silages were divided into 16 sections and each section was studied in detail. High concentrations of BAB spores were found in only the top 50 cm of these 8 silages. Elevated concentrations of BAB spores were associated with different signs of aerobic deterioration. In 13% of the sections in corn silage with more than 5 log10 yeasts and molds/g, more than 5 log10 BAB spores/g were found. Sections with a temperature of more than 5 degrees C above ambient temperature contained, in 21% of the cases, more than 5 log10 BAB spores/g. Concentrations above 5 log10 BAB spores/g were measured in 50% of the sections with a pH above 4.4. All sections with a pH above 4.4 also showed a temperature that was more than 5 degrees C above ambient temperature and a concentration of yeasts and molds above 5 log10 cfu/g. Based on these results, we postulated that high concentrations of BAB spores in corn silage are the result of oxygen penetration into the silage, resulting in aerobic deterioration and the formation of anaerobic niches with an increased pH just below the surface. Growth of BAB in these anaerobic niches with an increased pH caused the locally high concentrations of BAB in corn silage.

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