Effects of intake level of a mixed diet on chewing activity and on particle size of ruminated boli, ruminal digesta fractions and faeces of steers

P L Kovács, K H Südekum, M Stangassinger
Reproduction, Nutrition, Development 1997, 37 (5): 517-28
This study evaluated the effects of intake of a mixed diet on chewing activity during eating and rumination and the relationship between the chewing activity and the particle size of the ruminated boli, ruminal digesta fractions and faeces in steers. Six ruminally cannulated steers received a mixed forage/concentrate diet (68:32, dry matter basis). The diet was offered twice daily at approximately 1, 1.5 and 2 times the estimated maintenance energy requirements (low, medium and high intake, respectively) in a repeated 3 x 3 Latin square design. The rumens were emptied manually and samples of the ruminated boli and of the ruminal upper strata were collected at four different times throughout the day. The dry matter weight distribution of the total amount of recovered particles was determined by a wet-sieving procedure. Numerically, the effect of intake on the mean particle sizes of the different materials was small. However, the mean particle size was reduced by almost nine tenths from their size at intake of the mixed diet (4.78 mm) to defecation (0.51 mm). The total number of minutes chewing and eating and ruminating increased as the intake level increased. When related to 1 kg of dry matter intake, only the eating and chewing times were significantly longer for the high as compared to the medium intake. Rumination patterns were examined using a cosinor model. Data indicated that the average amount of time spent ruminating also increased as the intake level increased. The overall pattern of rumination was not impaired by higher intake levels. The amount of large (> or = 4 mm) particles that escaped per minute of rumination time between 3 and 7.5 h postfeeding was similar for all the intake levels. It was concluded that an active breakdown process occurred in the rumen which could cope with the higher intake levels of the mixed diet over the range of 1 to 2 times the maintenance energy requirement level.

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