Ruminal Acidosis

Cattle and other ruminants are able to digest grasses and other fibrous material because of the billions of bacteria, fungi and protozoa in the rumen. Each of these microbes has a preferred food source. For example, some prefer fibrous materials, whereas others prefer starch. Regardless of their preferred feed source, all bacteria beak down simple sugars to volatile fatty acids such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate. These volatile fatty acids are absorbed through the rumen wall into the bloodstream and provide an important energy source for cattle.

As their names suggest, volatile fatty acids are acidic under normal pH conditions in the rumen. As a result, rumen pH varies with volatile fatty acid concentrations in the rumen. Rumen pH drops as feed is digested rapidly, and rises when the rate of digestion slows.  Normally, the production and utilization of volatile fatty acids is in balance.  Ruminal acidosis occurs when acid is produced faster than it can be utilized.

Ruminal acidosis is a digestive disorder that is characterized by low rumen pH (more acidic than normal). Typically acidosis is said to be a pH below 5.8 (normal rumen pH is 6.5 – 7.0).

Cattle are at greatest risk for acidosis when consuming feed that is high in fermentable carbohydrates, which is most commonly associated with feedlot rations but can also happen on high quality pasture. Cattle that go off feed for an extended period of time are also at risk when they resume feed intake.

Click to continue reading… more information on the types, causes and prevention strategies of ruminal acidosis in beef cattle.

 

 

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Managing rumen health to improve productivity: Webinar Feb. 25

Update: Missed the webinar? Find the recording and check for future webinars on our Webinars page: http://www.beefresearch.ca/resources/webinars.cfm

When the digestive system isn’t balanced and functioning properly, cattle’s feed intake and ability to utilize nutrients may decline, and the likelihood of

health problems and carcass value discounts can increase. A better understanding of the rumen can help to prevent or resolve problem situations and manage feeding to economically meet production goals.

Join this free webinar to learn about:

  • what is rumen health: balancing the needs of the microbes and beef cattle
  • the direct and indirect links of rumen health and productivity
  • strategies to optimize rumen health and productive outcomes

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5 ways cattle feeders can prepare for the fall run



Before things get too busy with the fall run, take some time to learn more about (or refresh your memory on) some of the ways to promote calf health, feed efficiency and carcass quality in the animals that will be on feed in your lot this year. Continue reading