The effect of dietary adaptation on the susceptibility to and recovery from ruminal acidosis in beef cattle
Feeding diets rich in rapidly fermentable non-structural carbohydrates can lead to the development of ruminal acidosis. This study was conducted to determine if the duration of time that cattle are fed a high-grain diet affects their absorption of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and susceptibility to, and recovery from, ruminal acidosis. Sixteen Angus heifers (BW ± SEM, 261 ± 6.1 kg) were assigned to 1 of 4 blocks, and fed a backgrounding diet consisting of 60% barley silage, 30% barley grain, and 10% supplement (DM basis). Within block, cattle were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 treatments differing in the number of days they were fed the high-grain diet prior to an acidosis challenge: 34 d for long-adapted (LA) and 8 d for short-adapted (SA). All cattle were exposed to the same 20-d dietary transition using 5 dietary steps until achieving the final diet that contained 9% barley silage, 81% barley grain, and 10% supplement (DM basis). Data were collected during an 8-d baseline period (BASE), on the d of the acidosis challenge (CHAL), and during two consecutive 8 d recovery periods (REC1 and REC2). Ruminal acidosis was induced by restricting feed to 50% of DMI:BW for 24 h followed by an intraruminal infusion of ground barley at 10% DMI:BW. Cows were then given their regular diet allocation 1 h after the intraruminal infusion. The duration of time fed the high-grain diet did not affect ruminal pH, lactate, or SCFA concentrations (P > 0.050). However, during BASE and on the day of CHAL the SA heifers experienced greater linear (P = 0.031), quadratic (P = 0.016), and cubic (P = 0.008) between day change in the duration of time that pH was < 5.5 than LA heifers. Relative to BASE, inducing acidosis increased daily duration (531 to 1020 min/d; P < 0.001) and area (176 to 595 (min × pH)/d; P < 0.001) that pH was < 5.5. Inducing ruminal acidosis also increased the daily mean (0.3 to 11.4 mM; P = 0.013) and maximum (1.3 to 29.3 mM; P = 0.008) rumen fluid lactate concentrations relative to BASE, suggesting that an acute bout of ruminal acidosis was induced. In addition, a treatment × day interaction for the duration that pH was < 5.5 during REC1 suggests that LA cattle tended to recover from the CHAL more rapidly than SA cattle (P = 0.085). Indeed, analysis of covariance confirmed that the LA heifers experienced a quicker linear (P = 0.019) recovery over time from CHAL. The greater rate of recovery possibly resulted from the LA heifers having greater rates of both fractional butyrate (45 vs. 36 %/h; P = 0.019) and propionate absorption (42 vs. 34 %/h; P = 0.045), and tending to have greater rates, on an absolute basis, of butyrate absorption (94 vs. 79 mmol/h; P = 0.087) iii and, on a fractional basis, of total SCFA absorption (37 vs. 32 %/h; P = 0.100). Treatment × period interactions revealed that LA heifers had greater serum D-lactate concentrations (P = 0.003), and fractional rates of lactate absorption (P = 0.024) than SA heifers, during CHAL and REC1, respectively. When treatments were pooled, the absorption (%/h and mmol/h) of acetate, propionate, butyrate, and total SCFA increased between REC1 and REC2, with intermediate values for BASE (P ≤ 0.05). Corresponding to a reduction in absorption during REC1 (2 d post CHAL), saliva production (kg/h; P = 0.018) increased between BASE and REC1, with intermediate values for REC2. These results indicate that the duration of time cattle are fed a high-grain diet may stabilize rumen pH, both prior to and after an induced bout of acute ruminal acidosis, likely through increased ruminal absorptive capacity for SCFA and lactate. In addition, this study found evidence to suggest that beef cattle possess the ability to increase saliva secretion in order to compensate for decreased absorptive capacity.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentAnimal and Poultry Science
SupervisorPenner, Greg B.; Beauchemin, Karen A.
CommitteeMutsvangwa, Tim; McKinnon, John J.
Copyright DateApril 2013
Short-chain fatty acid absorption