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Vet J. 2008 Apr;176(1):44-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2007.12.017. Epub 2008 Mar 6.

Subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA) in grazing Irish dairy cows.

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School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, Unit of Herd and Veterinary Public Health, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.


Subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA) is a significant production disease of dairy cattle. Previous concerns have been raised over the occurrence of SARA in pasture-fed dairy cattle and the potential consequences of laminitis and lameness. Highly digestible perennial rye grass contains high concentrations of rapidly fermentable carbohydrate and low concentrations of physical effective fibre that may result in SARA. This study conducted a point prevalence survey of rumen health status in grazing Irish dairy cattle fed predominantly perennial rye grass-based pasture. The survey assessed rumen fluid, animal health status, milk production data and pasture composition. A total of 144 cows between 80 and 150 days in milk were sampled on 12 farms. Eleven percent of cows were classified as affected with SARA (pH < or = 5.5), 42% were marginal (pH 5.6-5.8) and 47% were normal (pH>5.8). The study showed that low rumen pH is prevalent in grazing Irish dairy cattle consuming perennial rye grass-based pasture and raises concerns regarding effective pasture utilisation and possible consequences for animal health.

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