Use of rope devices to describe and explain the feedlot ecology of Salmonella by time and place

D. R. Smith, R. A. Moxley, S. L. Clowser, J. D. Folmer, S. Hinkley, G. E. Erickson, T. J. Klopfenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Salmonella spp. are important zoonotic pathogens, and cattle can serve as an important source of this organism for human exposure through food. This study was designed to describe and explain the occurrence of Salmonella spp. by pen-level factors of time and place using a pen-level test-method previously validated for E. coli O157:H7. From each pen, we cultured seven ropes placed within the pen for cattle to rub and chew (ROPES), in order to classify the pens as ROPES-positive or ROPES-negative each week in longitudinal studies conducted during the summer and winter feeding periods of 2 full years. We observed differences in occurrence of ROPES-positive pens by week within each season such that, at times, a high proportion of pens were of the same ROPES-status even though feedyards were separated by 50-200 km. Factors associated with ROPES-positive pen-weeks during both the summer and winter feeding periods were the condition of the pen surface and recovery of Salmonella spp. from the water tank. The probability for pens of summer-fed cattle to be ROPES-positive for Salmonella spp. increased as the number of cattle in the pen increased and decreased when the pen was ROPES-positive for E. coli O157:H7. Pens of winter-fed cattle differed by feedyard in the probability of their being ROPES-positive for Salmonella spp. We were able to monitor these pens using ROPES at minimal expense, without disturbing individual cattle, and observe important time and place relationships of Salmonella spp. in fed cattle. These observations illustrate the importance of accounting for time- and place-dependent variables that affect the probability of detecting Salmonella spp. when designing and analyzing observational studies and clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-69
Number of pages9
JournalFoodborne pathogens and disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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