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J Dairy Sci. 1987 Apr;70(4):799-805.

Alteration of fermentation in continuous culture of mixed rumen bacteria by isolated alfalfa saponins.

Abstract

Saponins isolated from alfalfa by ethanol extraction and acid hydrolysis were incorporated into protein-free purified diets at 0, .5, 1, 2, and 4% of dietary dry matter to investigate the effect of saponins on fermentation by mixed rumen bacteria maintained in continuous culture. Inoculum was obtained from a lactating dairy cow fed alfalfa hay and a 13% crude protein grain mixture with forage to grain ratios of 33:67, 67:33, or 100:0. Outflow of microbial protein was lower in fermenters fed purified diet containing 1% saponins. Accumulation of ammonia was observed in fermenters fed purified diets containing alfalfa saponins. Total volatile fatty acid production was reduced by addition of isolated alfalfa saponin fraction at .5, 1, 2, and 4% concentrations. Acetate to propionate ratios were reduced from 1.93 in control to 1.37 in fermenters with 1% saponins. Extent of change in fermentation was not proportional to the concentration of added saponins.

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