Subacute ruminal acidosis in dairy cows: the physiological causes, incidence and consequences

Vet J. 2008 Apr;176(1):21-31. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2007.12.016. Epub 2008 Mar 10.


During subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA) rumen pH is depressed for several hours per day due to accumulation of volatile fatty acids and insufficient rumen buffering. Surveys suggested an incidence of SARA of between 19% and 26% in early and mid-lactation dairy cows. Causes of SARA include feeding excessive amounts of non-structural carbohydrates and highly fermentable forages, and insufficient dietary coarse fiber. Consequences of SARA include feed intake depression, reduced fiber digestion, milk fat depression, diarrhea, laminitis, liver abscesses, increased production of bacterial endotoxin and inflammation characterized by increases in acute phase proteins. The increase in endotoxin is similar among methods for SARA induction, but depends on the diet fed before induction. Increases in acute phase proteins vary among methods of SARA induction, even when the methods result in similar rumen pH depressions. This suggests that the inflammatory response might not be solely due to bacterial endotoxin in the rumen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / epidemiology
  • Acidosis / etiology
  • Acidosis / physiopathology
  • Acidosis / veterinary*
  • Animal Feed / adverse effects*
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cattle Diseases / etiology
  • Cattle Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Incidence
  • Lactation / physiology
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Milk / metabolism
  • Rumen / metabolism*
  • Stomach Diseases / epidemiology
  • Stomach Diseases / etiology
  • Stomach Diseases / physiopathology
  • Stomach Diseases / veterinary*