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. 2018 Nov;101(11):9777-9788.
doi: 10.3168/jds.2017-14353. Epub 2018 Aug 29.

Modulation of Rumen pH by Sodium Bicarbonate and a Blend of Different Sources of Magnesium Oxide in Lactating Dairy Cows Submitted to a Concentrate Challenge

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Modulation of Rumen pH by Sodium Bicarbonate and a Blend of Different Sources of Magnesium Oxide in Lactating Dairy Cows Submitted to a Concentrate Challenge

Alex Bach et al. J Dairy Sci. .
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With the objective of evaluating the potential effects of sodium bicarbonate or a magnesium-based product on rumen pH and milk performance of dairy cattle exposed to a dietary challenge, 30 lactating Holstein cows (648 ± 67 kg of body weight; 44.4 ± 9.9 kg/d of milk yield; 155 ± 75 d in milk) were blocked by parity (9 primiparous and 21 multiparous) and randomly distributed to 3 treatment groups. One group received a total mixed ration (TMR) that acted as a control (CTR), a second group (SB) received the same TMR but with an additional supplementation of 0.8% of sodium bicarbonate, and a third group (MG) received the same TMR as CTR but an additional supplementation of 0.4% of a magnesium-based product (pHix-Up, Timab, Dinard, France). After 1 wk of exposure to this TMR, all 3 rations were supplemented with 1 kg/d of barley, which was then increased 1 kg/wk until reaching 3 kg/d of barley during wk 4 of the study. Every kilogram of barley replaced 1 kg of forage in the diet. Individual feed intake and behavior were monitored using electronic feed bins. Seven cows per treatment were equipped with an intraruminal bolus that recorded pH every 15 min. As the severity of the barley challenge increased, dry matter intake decreased, but this decrease was more pronounced in SB cows than in MG cows, with an intermediate response for CTR cows. The MG cows produced more milk when challenged with 2 or 3 kg/d of additional barley than when challenged with 1 kg/d, whereas CTR cows produced less milk with the 3 kg/d challenge compared with 1 or 2 kg/d, and the SB cows maintained milk production. Milk fat content decreased with barley challenges, with CTR cows experiencing a more severe decrease than SB cows, which maintained stable butterfat values throughout the study, and MG cows showed a decline in milk fat content only with the 3 kg/d of additional barley. Meal size was also reduced as the severity of barley challenge increased, and this reduction was more modest in MG cows than in SB cows. The number of daily meals consumed by SB and MG cows was more constant than that recorded in CTR cows. Cows on the CTR and SB treatments showed a marked decrease in rumen pH with the 3 kg/d of additional barley, whereas MG cows maintained stable rumen pH during the barley challenges and had greater average rumen pH (5.93 ± 0.04) than CTR cows (5.83 ± 0.04) with the 3 kg/d of additional barley; SB cows showed intermediate values (5.85 ± 0.04). Last, MG cows spent less time (32.3 ± 6.1%) with rumen pH ≤5.8 when exposed to the 3 kg/d of barley challenge than CTR and SB cows (50.7 ± 5.02%). In conclusion, supplementation with MG prevents the decline in dry matter intake and milk production induced by a rumen challenge, whereas supplementation with SB prevents the decay in milk production but does not prevent the decrease in feed intake. These changes were probably due to the ability of the MG treatment to prevent a reduction in rumen pH when challenging cows with 3 kg/d of additional barley in the ration.

Keywords: fermentation; neutralization; rumen acidosis.

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