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J Dairy Sci. 1999 Jul;82(7):1545-54.

Effects of feeding virginiamycin and sodium bicarbonate to grazing lactating dairy cows.

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Division of Animal Science, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia.


The effects of virginiamycin, an agent active against Gram-positive lactic acid-producing bacteria, and NaHCO3 on ruminal and fecal pH, rumen volatile fatty acid proportions, blood metabolites, and milk production and composition were assessed. This study was conducted over 28 d and involved 71 dairy cows that grazed predominantly ryegrass, oats, and clover, and that were fed 10 kg of concentrate pellets/d per head. The pellets contained (per kilogram) no dietary additive, 30 mg of virginiamycin, 20 g of NaHCO3, or 30 mg of virginiamycin and 20 g of NaHCO3 on a DM basis. Ruminal pH tended to be higher in cows fed pellets containing virginiamycin (7.0 vs. 6.9; SED = 0.16). The results of in vitro incubation of ruminal fluid with glucose found the potential for L-lactic acid accumulation in ruminal fluid to be significantly lower in cows fed virginiamycin (15.5 vs. 35.3 mmol/L; SED = 2.98). Cows fed virginiamycin had significantly higher fecal pH (6.72 vs. 6.57; SED = 0.08) and produced more milk (23.94 vs. 23.32 kg/d) and more lactose than those not fed virginiamycin. No effects of NaHCO3 on fecal pH, in vitro potential for L-lactic acid accumulation in ruminal fluid, or milk production were observed, but ruminal pH tended to be higher and ruminal acetate proportion was greater for cows fed NaHCO3. Milk fat and milk protein percentage did not differ significantly as a result of dietary treatment. These data suggest that the inclusion of virginiamycin in the diet will reduce L-lactic acid accumulation in ruminal fluid and increase fecal pH in grazing dairy cattle fed concentrate supplements.

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