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Supplementation of Spring Pasture with Harvested Fodder Beet Bulb Alters Rumen Fermentation and Increases Risk of Subacute Ruminal Acidosis during Early Lactation.

  • Fleming, Anita1
  • Garrett, Konagh1
  • Froehlich, Kelly1
  • Beck, Matthew1
  • Bryant, Racheal H1
  • Edwards, Grant1
  • Gregorini, Pablo1
  • 1 Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, PO Box 85084, Lincoln University, Lincoln 7647, Canterbury, New Zealand. , (New Zealand)
Published Article
Animals : an open access journal from MDPI
Publication Date
Jul 30, 2020
DOI: 10.3390/ani10081307
PMID: 32751524


In a cross-over design, eight rumen cannulated dairy cows were used to explore the industry-recommended method for dietary transition to fodder beet (FB: Beta vulgaris L.) on changes to rumen fermentation and pH, milk production, dry matter intake (DMI) and the risk of subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA) during early lactation. Cows were split into two groups and individually allocated a ryegrass (Lolium Perenne L.) and white clover (Trifolium repens L.) diet (HO) or the same herbage supplemented with 6 kg DM/cow of harvested fodder beet bulbs (FBH). Dietary adaptation occurred over 20 days consisting of: stage 1: gradual transition to target FB intake (days 1-12, +0.5 kg DM of FB/d); stage 2: acclimatization (days 13-17) and stage 3: post-adaption sampling (days 18-20). Response variables were analyzed as a factorial arrangement of diet and stage of adaption using a combination of ANOVA and generalized linear mixed modelling. Dietary proportion of FB represented 22, (stage 1), 32 (stage 2) and 38% (stage 3) of daily DMI. One cow during each period developed SARA from FB and the duration of low pH increased with FBH compared to the HO treatment (p < 0.01). Rumen concentrations of lactic and butyric acid increased with FBH but concentrations of acetate, propionate and total volatile fatty acids (VFA) declined by 9.3% at day 20, compared to the HO treatment (p < 0.01). Treatments did not affect milk production but total DMI with supplemented cows increased during the final stage of adaptation and feed conversion efficiency (FCE kg milk/kg DM) declined with the FBH treatment. The occurrence of SARA in 25% of animals fed FB suggest it is a high-risk supplement to animal health and further evaluation of industry-recommended methods for feeding FB at the individual- and herd-scale are needed.

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