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Bedding Cultures

Teat end exposure of bacteria is the primary cause of mastitis. Clean bedding reduces teat end exposure and the probability of mastitis. Bedding used for Livestock is categorized as either organic or inorganic. Examples of organic bedding are straw, wood shavings and recycled manure solids. These products will can easily support bacterial growth with rapid increases in numbers shortly after being placed in beds.
The most common inorganic bedding source used on dairies is sand. It does not support bacterial growth very well until organic material is introduced. 
The major pathogens associated with bedding material are the environmental Streptococcus and the coliforms. The major coliform bacteria that causes problems in dairy cattle are E.coli and Kliebsiella. 
In order to analyze of the cleanliness of the bedding, cultures can be performed to determine the specific bacteria present and the levels per gram of dry matter. 
All bedding cultures from our lab reports back the dry matter of the bedding material along with organic load for sand bedding. Bacteria is reported back divided in total coliforms, E.coli, Klebsiella and environmental Streptococcus. Organic beddings will have the dry matter reported back and inorganic bedding will have the dry matter and the organic load reported back.
To take a proper bedding culture collect several ounces of bedding material from the back 2 feet of several stalls per pen and place in ziplock bag. Label the bag with the date and where the sample came from and then refrigerate the sample or freeze them. All samples must be kept cold for the trip to the lab.