December 07, 2015

07/12/2015: RumenStabiliser: Stable rumen pH for a profitable milk production
There`s a trend in dairy farming that less cows produce more milk, although achieving a high milk yield often poses a danger to the health of the animals, Dr Eckel says

Feed for high-performance dairy cows must contain concentrates at large volumes to ensure maximum milk yield. However, this feed leads to a high risk of ruminal acidosis. Optimised feeding can help to stabilise the ruminal pH.

Rumen acidosis is still one of the most common disorders in the high yielding dairy cow, accounting for about 14 percent of costs due to health issues. It is associated with low feed intake and decreased performance. The influence on milk yield and quality as well as animal health and welfare (laminitis, longevity and fertility) are estimated at about US$200/cow annually.  According to Krause and Oetzel (2006), the financial impact of associated disorders may well be higher than the cost of lost milk production.

With milk prices at about 33 cents per kg, it is critical for dairy plant profitability that animals remain healthy, and that costs for treatment of diseased animals are kept as low as possible. RumenStabiliser is a concept based on a special blend of organic acids containing malic acid and the salt of fumaric acid as well as buffering substances to optimise rumen fermentation and stabilising ruminal pH for a profitable milk production.

Rumen acidosis is a major challenge in modern dairy and cattle farming
Over the past few years, the average milk yield per cow has risen drastically due to improved genetics. In order to exploit this potential, increasing amounts of concentrates in the ration are necessary to minimise the negative energy balance especially in early lactation. Feeding cows increasing amounts of concentrate has a detrimental effect though on ruminal fermentation, risking animal health and performance. Subacute ruminal acidosis can be widely present even in herds living in good conditions. Stabilising ruminal pH while maintaining high performance remains one of the major challenges in ruminant nutrition.

If substrate availability and absorption of the fermentation products are balanced, ruminal pH remains stable. Low pH values and acute acidosis occur when high volumes of lactic acid are produced and the uptake of lactic acid is decreased (De Nardi et al, 2013). This is usually the case when high amounts of concentrates and grain are fed to the cows. With increasing starch levels, the activity of the lactate utilising bacteria decreases. Lactic acid accumulates in the rumen causing subacute or acute acidosis with pH values lower than 5.6 over an extended period of time. Subacute or acute acidosis is due to the negative sanding effect of small feed particles in the concentrate and the reduced chewing time and the associated reduced buffering of the gastric contents by bicarbonate from the saliva.

Acidosis is connected to a reduced feed intake and body weight gain and worsened body-condition-score as well as to an impaired digestion. Furthermore it causes laminitis, a higher mortality rate, affects herd fertility and leads to a decreased milk fat and milk protein content (Stone 1999). This production-related disease has a considerable economic importance.

Scientifically proven: Controlling ruminal pH with RumenStabiliser
There are several studies describing the positive effects of the salt of malic and fumaric acid on rumen fermentation and stable ruminal pH value. A feeding trial was performed at the University of Padua, Italy, by De Nardi et al (2013). The objective of the study was to investigate the effect of RumenStabiliser on ruminal pH on dairy heifers exposed to a high grain, and thus an easily fermentable carbohydrate load.

The animals were fed a low starch diet (39.8% NDF, 36.4% NSC, 24.0% starch) for two weeks followed by a high starch diet likely to induce acidotic conditions (33.6% NDF, 43.2% NSC, 30.0% starch) for 8 days. In the last 5 days of the study, barley meal was given as top dress to increase the probability of low ruminal pH. Reticular pH was continuously determined using wireless boluses. The supplementation of RumenStabiliser led to a significantly higher nadir pH in the treatment group (5.66 vs 5.48; p<0.05). Furthermore, the average daily time spent below a rumen pH of 5.6 was with 16 minutes vs. 120 minutes considerably lower in the treatment group (Figure 1). A 75 percent reduction of time spent under a reticular pH of 5.6 due to the supplementation of RumenStabiliser indicated a stabilised ruminal environment and therefore a reduced risk for acidosis.

The improvement of ruminal pH observed in-vivo, together with the observations made previously in a Rusitec-study, confirm that a combination of salts of malic and fumaric acid positively influences microbial fermentation.

RumenStabiliser is a useful tool in controlling rumen pH in ruminants. It modifies rumen flora in a beneficial way and stimulates the transformation of lactic acid into rapidly absorbable propionic acid. The result is an increase of pH-value. A fast absorption of acids through the rumen wall, in association with an increase of pH level and fast supply of feed-energy, is the result. RumenStabiliser is a proven valuable tool for preventing acidosis and related diseases, leading to a more profitable milk production and a higher standard of animal welfare.

If you have any questions about avoiding rumen acidosis and the benefits of RumenStabiliser, please contact us:
Daniela Martin
Technical Sales

Visit the Dr Eckel site HERE.

The Global Miller
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