Dietary components and changes cause shifts in the gastrointestinal microbial ecology that can play a role in animal health and productivity. However, most information about the microbial populations in the gut of livestock species has not been quantitative. In the present study, we utilized a new molecular method, bacterial tag-encoded FLX amplicon pyrosequencing (bTEFAP) that can perform diversity analyses of gastrointestinal bacterial populations. In the present study, cattle (n = 6) were fed a basal feedlot diet and were subsequently randomly assigned to 1 of 3 diets (n = 2 cows per diet). In each diet, 0, 25, or 50% of the concentrate portion of the ration was replaced with dried distillers grain (DDGS). Ruminal and fecal bacterial populations were different when animals were fed DDGS compared with controls; ruminal and fecal Firmicute:Bacteroidetes ratios were smaller (P = 0.07) in the 25 and 50% DDG diets compared with controls. Ruminal pH was decreased (P < 0.05) in ruminal fluid from cattle fed diets containing 50% compared with 0% DDGS. Using bTEFAP, the normal microbiota of cattle were examined using modern molecular methods to understand how diets affect gastrointestinal ecology and the gastrointestinal contribution of the microbiome to animal health and production.
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