Uterine bacterial flora in postpartum Danish Holstein dairy cows determined using DNA-based fingerprinting: Correlation to uterine condition and calving management

K. Elkjær, M.-L. Ancker, H. Gustafsson, N. C. Friggens, A. Waldmann, Lars Mølbak, H. Callesen

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    The overall aim of this study was to describe uterine bacterial flora during the postpartum period in Danish Holstein cows using the Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (T-RFLP) method. This method produces a pattern of nucleic acid fragments from the microorganisms present, reflecting the “fingerprint” of the actual microbial flora. As well as characterizing changes in flora with time from calving and between herds, data were examined for strong relations between uterine bacterial flora, calving management and uterine condition. In total 125 Holstein cows from five herds were included, and for each cow calving management was recorded. Cows were clinically examined on average 8 (range 0–19) and 28 (range 22–38) days after calving, and a uterine sample was taken for bacterial identification using T-RFLP. Milk samples were taken weekly for progesterone analysis. Bacteria were found in all cows at both examinations, and the flora was composed of many species, including species not traditionally reported to be present in the bovine uterus. The bacterial composition differed according to days from calving and herd. In all five herds Fusobacterium necrophorum, Pseudomonas/Acinetobacter and Bacteroides/Sphingobacterium/Prevotellaceae were among the most common at both examinations. In four herds there was a percentage decrease of F. necrophorum from first to second examination, and in all herds there was a percentage increase of Pseudomonas/Acinetobacter from first to second examination. No differences in bacterial flora were found between cows with different uterine scores, which were influenced by herd, calving difficulty and retained placenta.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAnimal Reproduction Science
    Issue number1-2
    Pages (from-to)39-48
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Uterus
    • Bacteria
    • T-RFLP
    • Metritis

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