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J Dairy Sci. 1999 Jan;82(1):122-34.

Effect of diet on populations of three species of ruminal cellulolytic bacteria in lactating dairy cows.

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US Dairy Forage Research Center, USDA-ABS, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706, USA.


The effects of four contrasting diets were determined on populations of three species of ruminal cellulolytic bacteria (Ruminococcus albus, Ruminococcus flavefaciens, and Fibrobacter succinogenes) using oligonucleotide probes to rRNA. Diets based on alfalfa silage or corn silage as the primary fiber source were formulated to contain either 24 or 32% neutral detergent fiber measured after alpha-amylase treatment. The diets were fed twice daily to four ruminally fistulated, lactating Holstein cows in a trial using a Latin square design. The cows fed the alfalfa silage diets had higher dry matter intakes and milk production and smaller pH fluctuations than did cows fed the corn silage diets (0.3 vs. 0.8 units). The total populations of the three cellulolytic species at 3 h after feeding ranged from 0.3 to 3.9% of the bacterial domain; R. albus was generally the most abundant of the three species. The data are in general agreement with population assessments obtained by some traditional methods of culture enumeration. Although diet and individual cows had major effects on ruminal pH and volatile fatty acid concentrations and on milk production and composition, differences in cellulolytic populations that were attributable to individual cows were larger than those attributable to diet, suggesting that each cow maintained a unique assemblage of cellulolytic species.

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