Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production

Clostridia Hitches a Ride in Manure

Two billion tons! That’s the amount of manure produced in the United States each year. Your adult cows generate about 66 pounds of manure per cow per day.

Any way you look at it, manure management is a big job—from a volume perspective, from an odor perspective, and even from a bacterial perspective.


Under the Microscope

Researchers at the University of California – Davis recently explored the diversity of bacterial populations in liquid and solid dairy manure from typical Central Valley dairies. Their findings1 were published January 5, 2018, in the journal Plos One.

It’s no secret that manure contains a range of bacterial species—some harmful and others less threatening. But this study explored whether there were differences in diversity and population among various forms of manure. The researchers learned that regardless of composting, drying, solid-liquid separation or lagoon storage, a diverse microbial population that includes pathogenic bacteria resides in manure.

Specifically, in addition to the presence of other species, bacteria of the genus Clostridium were present in both solid and liquid samples. For instance, three most abundant species in flush manure were RuminococcaceaeClostridium and Flavobacteriaceae.  Moreover, the pathogenic bacteria of genus Clostridium persisted in all three types of liquid samples—flush manure, primary lagoon and secondary lagoon.

The scientists also noted that the bacterial population among liquid samples was comparable, as was the population among solid samples. These findings suggest that the mode of manure application (i.e., liquid versus solid) could have a potential impact on the microbiome of cropland receiving manure as fertilizers.1


What does this mean?

The results illustrate how manure acts an important stage in the lifecycle of clostridia—it serves as a carrier to transport the bacteria throughout your farm. And this information also helps explain why clostridia remain so prevalent in soils and throughout dairy farms. This research was conducted in California, but it would be reasonable to expect comparable results elsewhere.

Therefore, it’s important to remember that clostridial species are a common part of dairy life. However, your herd doesn’t have to suffer from the ill effects of pathogenic species such as Clostridium perfringens, which can negatively impact gut health and lead to serious digestive issues such as hemorrhagic bowel syndrome. Or from other Clostridium species that produce metabolic end-products that have a negative impact on rumen efficiency.

Using the regional clostridia profiles developed during their sampling process, ARM & HAMMER™ researchers have identified several specific combinations of proprietary strains of Bacillus bacteria that inhibit both toxigenic and non-toxigenic Clostridium species. Bacillus also thrive in soil and are natural enemies of clostridia.

Keep in mind that long-term Bacillus use also results in changes to clostridial population levels and species diversity—the Microbial Terroir™ of your dairy.

Through on-farm testing and analysis you can learn more about the specific microbial and environmental challenges your dairy faces, and understand the solutions available to help address these challenges.

These activities also help determine which formulation of CERTILLUS™ Targeted Microbial Solutions™ offers the potential for optimal results—to alter your farm’s pathogen profile, lower harmful bacterial loads in GI tracts and enhance overall cow health, production and efficiency.


1 Pandey P, Chiu C, Miao M, Wang Y, Settles M, del Rio NS, et al. (2018) 16S rRNA analysis of diversity of manure microbial community in dairy farm environment. PLoS ONE 13(1): e0190126.

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