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Weaning age influences the severity of gastrointestinal microbiome shifts in dairy calves

Abstract : Ruminants microbial consortium is responsible for ruminal fermentation, a process which converts fibrous feeds unsuitable for human consumption into desirable dairy and meat products, begins to establish soon after birth. However, it undergoes a significant transition when digestion shifts from the lower intestine to ruminal fermentation. We hypothesised that delaying the transition from a high milk diet to an exclusively solid food diet (weaning) would lessen the severity of changes in the gastrointestinal microbiome during this transition. beta-diversity of ruminal and faecal microbiota shifted rapidly in early-weaned calves (6 weeks), whereas, a more gradual shift was observed in late-weaned calves (8 weeks) up to weaning. Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes were the most abundant ruminal phyla in pre- and post-weaned calves, respectively. Yet, the relative abundance of these phyla remained stable in faeces (P >= 0.391). Inferred gene families assigned to KEGG pathways revealed an increase in ruminal carbohydrate metabolism (P <= 0.009) at 9, compared to 5 weeks. Conversely, carbohydrate metabolism in faeces declined (P <= 0.002) following a change in weaning status (i.e., the shift from pre- to post-weaning). Our results indicate weaning later facilitates a more gradual shift in microbiota and could potentially explain the negative effects of early-weaning associated with feeding a high-plane of pre-weaning nutrition.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - 10:01:49 PM
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Sarah Jade Meale, S. C. Li, P. Azevedo, H. Derakhshani, T. J. Devries, et al.. Weaning age influences the severity of gastrointestinal microbiome shifts in dairy calves. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 7, ⟨10.1038/s41598-017-00223-7⟩. ⟨hal-01595259⟩

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