Use of Megasphaera elsdenii NCIMB41125 as a probiotic for early-lactation dairy cows: effects on rumen pH and fermentation patterns
Aikman, P. C., Henning, P. H., Horn, C. H. and Humphries, D. J. (2009) Use of Megasphaera elsdenii NCIMB41125 as a probiotic for early-lactation dairy cows: effects on rumen pH and fermentation patterns. In: American Dairy Science Association, Tuesday, July 14, 2009, San Antonio, USA, pp. 288-289. (J. Anim. Sci. Vol. 87, E-Suppl. 2/J. Dairy Sci. Vol. 92, E-Suppl. 1 288-289)
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Multiparous rumen-fistulated Holstein cows were fed, from d 1 to 28 post-calving, an ad libitum TMR containing (g/kg DM) grass silage (196), corn silage (196), wheat (277), soybean meal (100), and other feeds (231) with CP, NDF, starch and water soluble carbohydrate concentrations of 176, 260, 299 and 39 g/kg DM respectively and ME of 12.2 MJ/kg DM. Treatments consisting of a minimum of 1010 cfu Megasphaera elsdenii NCIMB 41125 in 250 ml solution (MEGA) or 250 ml of autoclaved M. elsdenii (CONT) were administered via the rumen cannula on d 3 and 12 of lactation (n=7 per treatment). Mid-rumen pH was measured every 15 minutes and eating and ruminating behavior was recorded for 24 h on d 2, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 15, 17, 22 and 28. Rumen fluid for VFA and lactic acid (LA) analysis was collected at 11 timepoints on each of d 2, 4, 6, 13 and 15. Data were analysed as repeated measures using the Glimmix (LA data) or Mixed (all other data) procedures of SAS with previous 305 d milk yield and d 2 measurements as covariates where appropriate. Milk yield was higher (CONT 43.0 vs MEGA 45.4 ±0.75 kg/d, P=0.051) and fat concentration was lower (CONT 45.6 vs MEGA 40.4 ±1.05 g/kg, P=0.005) in cows that received MEGA. Time spent eating (263 ±15 min/d) and ruminating (571 ±13 min/d), DM intake (18.4 ±0.74 kg/d), proportion of each 24 h period with rumen pH below 5.6 (3.69 ±0.94 h) and LA concentrations (2.00 mM) were similar (P>0.327) across treatments. Ruminal total VFA concentration (104 ±3 mM) was similar (P=0.404) across treatments, but a shift from acetate (CONT 551 vs MEGA 524 ±14 mmol/mol VFA, P=0.161) to propionate production (CONT 249 vs MEGA 275 ±11 mmol/mol VFA, P=0.099) meant that the acetate:propionate ratio (CONT 2.33 vs MEGA 1.94 ±0.15) was reduced (P=0.072) in cows that received MEGA. This study provides evidence that supplementation of early lactation dairy cows with MEGA alters rumen fermentation patterns in favour of propionate, with potential benefits for animal health and productivity.