Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production
dairy cows

WEBINAR: Salmonella is an underrated killer.

Posted October 21, 2020 by Dr. Jack McReynolds, R&D and Technical Director, Food Production

When producers think of pathogens that can harm their herd, Salmonella probably isn’t at the top of the list. In reality, Salmonella incidence is rivaled only by BVD as the most harmful pathogen affecting dairy and beef animals.

Cattle can be infected as calves and can shed the pathogen without clinical symptoms all of their lives. A review of National Animal Health Monitoring Surveys (NAHMS) shows that Salmonella incidence on dairies doubled from 1996 through 2007. In two studies, groups of 3,800 and 5,000 isolates from dairy farms had infection rates of 14 percent and 23 percent, respectively. Of the isolates, Salmonella dublin was the most prevalent. Complicating the issue, another study showed that up to 79 percent of Salmonella dublin isolates were antibiotic resistant.

Preventing Salmonella from affecting your herd takes a whole-herd approach to stop the continuum of infection.


  • Colostrum: The most important management practice to prevent Salmonella is to feed adequate amounts of high-quality colostrum. Feed up to four quarts within the first two hours of birth, following that with another two quarts six to eight hours later.
  • Sanitize: Be sure to clean and sanitize all equipment used to feed calves after every use. Wash with soap and sanitizers, making sure to check the label on the products to ensure they truly are disinfectants and sanitizers.
  • Segregate: Work with sick calves last, or have a separate person dedicated to caring for those animals.


  • Cleanliness: Maintain clean stalls and facilities, especially in the calving area. Calve one cow per pen whenever possible, taking time to clean and disinfect the area after each calving. Move calves to a clean hutch within the first day of life. Also, clean water sources on a regular basis.
  • Vaccinate: Work with your veterinarian to develop a vaccination program that protects the cow and passes immunity to the calf.
  • Reduce stress: Prepare animals for stressful events. Make changes over time to soften adjustments. Slowly ramp transition cows onto highly fermentable feed over time. Have heat mitigation protocols in place to manage heat stress.
  • Nutrition: A healthy rumen environment helps establish strong immune function and can be a first line of defense against Salmonella infection. In a University of Florida study (Santos, et al. 2008) CELMANAX was shown to bind pathogens and significantly reduce incidence of Salmonella newport and Salmonella dublin in calves.

When it comes to protecting your herd from Salmonella, a whole-herd approach is necessary. Diligent adherence to management protocols that maintain a clean environment, reduce stress and provide optimal nutrition to strengthen immunity is key.

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