The effect on the rumen composition of feeding sheep diets supplying different starches I The variation in rumen composition of sheep fed lucerne or wheat as the sole diet

Chou, K.C.; Walker, D.M.

The Journal of Agricultural Science 62(1): 7

1964


DOI: 10.1017/s0021859600059712
Accession: 025770406

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Abstract
Rumen samples were drawn from 7 sheep that had been gradually introduced to diets wholly of dried lucerne or wheat. One feed daily was given and the amount was close to the maximum voluntary intake. At least 14 days on each diet elapsed before samples were taken and the sheep were not fed for 16 h before sampling. Total N and its constituents, ammonia, non-protein, protein and residual N, were fairly uniform for each diet, the main diet difference being a higher protein N on the wheat diet. Numbers of ciliate protozoa varied greatly between sheep and between days, especially on the wheat diet. The same was true of lactic acid, which tended to be higher on the wheat diet, exceeding 20 mg per 100 ml on 4 occasions. Total volatile fatty acids were lower on the lucerne diet, 39.9 mmoles per litre, than on the wheat diet, 69.4 mmoles per litre, with which less acetate and more propionate were found. On the lucerne diet the average p H was 7.7 and the concentrations were of CO2 113 mmoles and of Na and K 96 and 23 m-equiv. per litre; on the wheat diet corresponding values were 6.6, 75, 96 and 32. Rumen fluid from wheat-fed sheep fermented soluble starch in vitro about 4 times as fast and glucose a little more slowly, per mg protein N, than that from lucerne-fed sheep. It is concluded that with highly digestible diets low in fibre variations in the concentrations of some rumen constituents between sheep and from day to day may exceed differences due to the nature of the diet.