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Estimation of silent phenotypes of calf antibiotic dysbiosis

Reducing antibiotic usage among livestock animals to prevent antimicrobial resistance has become an urgent issue worldwide. This study evaluated the effects of administering chlortetracycline (CTC), a versatile antibacterial agent, on the performance, blood components, fecal microbiota, and organic acid concentrations of calves. Japanese Black calves were fed with milk replacers containing CTC at 10 g/kg (CON group) or 0 g/kg (EXP group). Growth performance was not affected by CTC administration. However, CTC administration altered the correlation between fecal organic acids and bacterial genera. Machine learning (ML) methods such as association analysis, linear discriminant analysis, and energy landscape analysis revealed that CTC administration affected populations of various types of fecal bacteria. Interestingly, the abundance of several methane-producing bacteria at 60 days of age was high in the CON group, and the abundance of Lachnospiraceae, a butyrate-producing bacterium, was high in the EXP group. Furthermore, statistical causal inference based on ML data estimated that CTC treatment affected the entire intestinal environment, potentially suppressing butyrate production, which may be attributed to methanogens in feces. Thus, these observations highlight the multiple harmful impacts of antibiotics on the intestinal health of calves and the potential production of greenhouse gases by calves.