ARM & HAMMER’S ScienceHearted Center using 30,000 Bacillus strains to solve poultry challenges

Finding the “best of the best” to create Targeted Microbial Solutions
calendar icon 26 September 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

Dr. Seth Wenner, Manager of Biodiversity Discovery at Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production, spoke about the Research and Development team’s vast collection of Bacillus to The Poultry Site’s Sarah Mikesell at the ARM & HAMMER’S ScienceHearted Center in Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA.

“We're very fortunate to have a very large collection of Bacillus samples here - over 30,000 strains – that have been collected starting in 2014,” said Wenner. “Whenever we get environmental samples in, we try to collect as many as we can, and they are stored in one of seven freezers in the lab that are kept at -80° C (-112° F). The Bacillus isolated are primarily coming from sources like litter samples, animal samples, feces and environmental swabs.”

Often, when the team is doing Microbial Terroir™ sampling, they are searching for beneficial bacteria as well pathogens that are in the environment, soil, animals and weather at a specific location. Beneficial strains of bacteria can help combat harmful pathogens impacting animal performance.

Finding the “best of the best” Bacillus

In the lab, the Bacillus strains are used to develop new products for customers by trying to find the best from the extensive collection. The goal is to find the right strain that solves a problem that a customer or group of farms are having.

“Sometimes that means getting down from 30,000 isolates by doing gene screens to get to a more manageable number, then doing functional screenings to get to the top one or two strains, so we are getting the ‘best of the best’ for our customers,” he said.

ARM & HAMMER poultry customers benefit from the vast collection of Bacillus through the development of targeted microbial solutions that are developed to solve a problem on the farm and the specific pathogen strains their animals are dealing with.

Beyond Bacillus

ARM & HAMMER has collected an extensive organism collection, including about 30,000 lactic acid bacteria which are generally beneficial microbes as well as a large number of pathogens.

“We've been able to collect over 100,000 pathogens, including E. coli, Clostridia, Salmonella, Streptococcus and various other things,” he said. “Our collection makes us unique, and it's a very special asset that we have. We have built special tools to be able to screen the significant number of strains to find functional strains for the problem we have to solve.”

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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