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Probiotics benefit ruminal pH in Holstein calves

A team at the United Graduate School of Veterinary Science at the Gifu University in Japan studied the effect of a probiotic on ruminal pH, volatile fatty acids, and bacterial flora of Holstein calves.

Twelve ruminally cannulated Holstein calves (age, 12 ± 3 weeks) were used to identify the effect of a probiotic comprised of Lactobacillus plantarum, Enterococcus faecium and Clostridium butyricum, on ruminal components.

Trial set-up
The calves were adapted to a diet containing a 50% high-concentrate (standard diet) for 1 week, and then the probiotic was given once daily for 5 days (day 1-5) at 1.5 or 3.0 g/100 kg body weight to groups of four calves each. Four additional calves fed the standard diet without probiotic served as the corresponding control. Ruminal pH was measured continuously throughout the 15-day experimental period. Ruminal fluid was collected via a fistula at a defined time predose and on days 7 and 14 to assess volatile fatty acid (VFA), lactic acid, and ammonia-nitrogen concentrations, as well as the bacterial community.

The probiotic at either dose improved the reduced 24-hr mean ruminal pH in calves. The circadian patterns of the 1 hr mean ruminal pH were identical between the probiotic doses. In both probiotic groups, ruminal lactic acid concentrations remained significantly lower than that of the control. Probiotic did not affect ruminal VFA concentrations. L. plantarum and C. butyricum were not detected in the rumen of calves given the high-dose probiotic, whereas Enterococcus spp. remained unchanged. These results suggest that calves given a probiotic had stable ruminal pH levels (6.6-6.8), presumably due to the effects of the probiotic on stabilising rumen-predominant bacteria, which consume greater lactate in the rumen.

Source: Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, March 2014

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