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Ruminal pH in cattle (Bos primigenius f. taurus) and moose (Alces alces) under different feeding conditions: a pilot investigation


Ritz, Julia; Codron, Daryl; Wenger, Sandra; Rensch, Eberhard; Hatt, Jean-Michel; Braun, Ueli; Clauss, Marcus (2014). Ruminal pH in cattle (Bos primigenius f. taurus) and moose (Alces alces) under different feeding conditions: a pilot investigation. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 2:44-51.

Abstract

Feeding recommendations for captive wild ruminants strictly restrict the use of high-starch/low fiber concentrates and fruits and vegetables, because of their potential to induce acidotic conditions in the forestomach. Nevertheless, such items are still used, and actual measurements documenting the consequences are rare. We used a captive moose (Alces alces) and two domestic cows (Bos primigenius f. taurus), equipped with intraruminal pH sensors, to monitor the short-term effects of five diets (a ‘natural diet’ of browse for moose and grass hay for the cows; a grass diet; an alfalfa hay diet; and a diet where concentrates, apples and carrots were offered, along an ad libitum roughage source, at two increasing levels – ration 1 and 2, respectively). Lowest mean pH, and highest pH variability, was measured on ration 2. The provision of concentrates/produce in two meals per day (8 am and 4 pm) resulted in distinct pH differences between day and night periods. Differences in the amount of roughages accepted (e.g., moose refused the freshly cut grass, and cows had low intakes on the alfalfa hay offered) could explain differences in the level and course of pH observed between diets. No particular species differences were noted that did not relate to roughage acceptance. These results underline that using roughages, and restricting/avoiding the use of concentrates and produce, will result in more stable forestomach conditions that are possibly favorable for ruminant health.

Abstract

Feeding recommendations for captive wild ruminants strictly restrict the use of high-starch/low fiber concentrates and fruits and vegetables, because of their potential to induce acidotic conditions in the forestomach. Nevertheless, such items are still used, and actual measurements documenting the consequences are rare. We used a captive moose (Alces alces) and two domestic cows (Bos primigenius f. taurus), equipped with intraruminal pH sensors, to monitor the short-term effects of five diets (a ‘natural diet’ of browse for moose and grass hay for the cows; a grass diet; an alfalfa hay diet; and a diet where concentrates, apples and carrots were offered, along an ad libitum roughage source, at two increasing levels – ration 1 and 2, respectively). Lowest mean pH, and highest pH variability, was measured on ration 2. The provision of concentrates/produce in two meals per day (8 am and 4 pm) resulted in distinct pH differences between day and night periods. Differences in the amount of roughages accepted (e.g., moose refused the freshly cut grass, and cows had low intakes on the alfalfa hay offered) could explain differences in the level and course of pH observed between diets. No particular species differences were noted that did not relate to roughage acceptance. These results underline that using roughages, and restricting/avoiding the use of concentrates and produce, will result in more stable forestomach conditions that are possibly favorable for ruminant health.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Farm Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:16 May 2014 15:44
Last Modified:31 May 2017 21:37
Publisher:EAZA
ISSN:2214-7594
Funders:Stiftung für wissenschaftliche Forschung der Universität Zürich
Official URL:http://www.jzar.org/jzar/article/view/24

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