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J Dairy Sci. 2003 Mar;86(3):954-7.

Short communication: Effects of subacute ruminal acidosis on free-choice intake of sodium bicarbonate in lactating dairy cows.

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Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada.


The effect of inducing subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA) on the free-choice intake of sodium bicarbonate (SB) was investigated in four midlactation Holstein cows in a switchover experiment with four 1-wk periods. The SARA was induced by replacing 25% of the ad libitum intake of total mixed ration (TMR) with pellets containing 50% ground wheat and 50% ground barley and restricting access to TMR from 0700 to 1700 h. Control consisted of feeding TMR ad libitum. Powdered SB was provided for ad libitum consumption. Rumen pH was measured continuously using indwelling pH probes. Induction of SARA reduced (P < 0.05) the average daily rumen pH from 6.08 to 5.87, increased (P < 0.05) the average duration of rumen pH below 6 from 547 min x d(-1) to 916 min x d(-1), and increased (P < 0.05) the average duration of rumen pH below 5.6 from 132 min x d(-1) to 397 min x d(-1) (P < 0.05) but did not significantly affect SB intake. Average intake of SB was 26.8 g x d(-1) during SARA and 34.5 g x d(-1) during control. These low SB intakes must not have substantially affected rumen pH. Sodium bicarbonate intake differed significantly (P < 0.05) between cows. These data indicate that cows did not select SB in order to attenuate SARA.

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