Characterizing ruminal acidosis risk: A multiherd, multicountry study


A multicenter observational study was conducted on early lactation Holstein cows (n = 261) from 32 herds from 3 regions (Australia, AU; California, CA; and Canada, CAN) to characterize their risk of acidosis into 3 groups (high, medium, or low) using a discriminant analysis model previously developed. Diets ranged from pasture supplemented with concentrates to total mixed ration (nonfiber carbohydrates = 17 to 47 and neutral detergent fiber = 27 to 58% of dry matter). Rumen fluid samples were collected <3 h after feeding and analyzed for pH, and ammonia, d- and l-lactate, and volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentrations. Eigenvectors were produced using cluster and discriminant analysis from a combination of rumen pH, and ammonia, d-lactate, and individual VFA concentrations and were used to calculate the probability of the risk of ruminal acidosis based on proximity to the centroid of 3 clusters. Bacterial 16S ribosomal DNA sequence data were analyzed to characterize bacteria. Individual cow milk volume, fat, protein, and somatic cell count values were obtained from the closest herd test to the rumen sampling date (median = 1 d before rumen sampling). Mixed model analyses were performed on the markers of rumen fermentation, production characteristics, and the probability of acidosis. A total of 26.1% of the cows were classified as high risk for acidosis, 26.8% as medium risk, and 47.1% as low risk. Acidosis risk differed among regions with AU (37.2%) and CA (39.2%) having similar prevalence of high-risk cows and CAN only 5.2%. The high-risk group had rumen phyla, fermentation, and production characteristics consistent with a model of acidosis that reflected a rapid rate of carbohydrate fermentation. Namely, an acetate to propionate (1.98 ± 0.11), concentrations of valerate (2.93 ± 0.14 mM), milk fat to protein ratio (1.11 ± 0.047), and a positive association with abundance of phylum Firmicutes. The medium-risk group contains cows that may be inappetant or that had not eaten recently or were in recovery from acidosis. The low-risk group may represent cattle that are well fed with a stable rumen and a slower rumen fermentation of carbohydrates. The high risk for acidosis group had lower diversity of bacteria than the other groups, whereas CAN had a greater diversity than AU and CA. Rumen fermentation profile, abundance of ruminal bacterial phyla, and production characteristics of early lactation dairy cattle from 3 regions were successfully categorized in 3 different acidosis risk states, with characteristics differing between acidosis risk groups. The prevalence of acidosis risk also differed between regions.



discriminant analysis, microbiome, ruminal acidosis, valerate


Golder, H. M., S. J. LeBlanc, T. Duffield, H. A. Rossow, R. Bogdanich, L. Hernandez, E. Block et al. "Characterizing ruminal acidosis risk: A multiherd, multicountry study." Journal of Dairy Science (2023).
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