Growth of Seeded Escherichia coli in Rewetted Cattle Waste Compost of Different Stages

  • Hanajima, D. (Pollution Control Laboratory, National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science) ;
  • Kuroda, K. (Pollution Control Laboratory, National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science) ;
  • Fukumoto, Y. (Pollution Control Laboratory, National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science) ;
  • Haga, K. (Pollution Control Laboratory, National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science)
  • Received : 2003.06.11
  • Accepted : 2003.10.11
  • Published : 2004.02.01


Compost is used mainly as an organic fertilizer, but it is also used as bedding material for cattle. Dairy cattle have been identified as a main reservoir of pathogenic Escherichia coli O157:H7. Further, E. coli is regarded as an environmental pathogen that causes bovine clinical mastitis. Hence, its growth in compost spread or compost bedding should be avoided. Physical and chemical conditions, available nutrients and microflora in compost change greatly during the composting process. Since pathogen growth in compost seems to be related to these changes, we assessed the possibility of E. coli growth in compost samples collected at 0, 7, 13, 22, 41, 190 and 360 d. Cattle waste composts with and without added tofu residue were collected from static piles and immediately air-dried. Compost samples were inoculated with a pure culture of E. coli, the moisture content was adjusted to 50%, and the samples were incubated for 5 d at $30^{\circ}C$. The numbers of E. coli in compost before and after incubation were determined by direct plating on Chromocult coliform agar. Almost all compost samples supported E. coli growth. Samples collected during or immediately after the thermophilic phase (day 7) showed the highest growth. Growth in samples more than 13 d old were not significantly different from those of aged compost samples. The addition of tofu residue gave a higher growth than its absence in younger samples collected prior to 13 d. To minimize the risk of environmental mastitis, the use of compost in the initial stage of the process is better avoided.


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