Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

The definition of acidosis in dairy herds predominantly fed on pasture and concentrates

Bramley, E., Lean, I.J., Fulkerson, W.J., Stevenson, M.A., Rabiee, A.R. and Costa, N.D. (2008) The definition of acidosis in dairy herds predominantly fed on pasture and concentrates. Journal of Dairy Science, 91 (1). pp. 308-321.

Link to Published Version:
*Subscription may be required


This cross-sectional survey examined the prevalence of ruminal acidosis and the effects of acidosis on the production of dairy cattle. Eight fresh cows, 3 primiparous and 5 multiparous (<100 d in milk), were selected randomly from each of 100 dairy herds in 5 regions of Australia. Rumen fluid was obtained from each cow by rumenocentesis and a stomach tube, and samples were tested for pH. Stomach tube rumen fluid samples were analyzed for volatile fatty acid, ammonia, and d-lactate concentrations. On the basis of the results of all assays, cows were categorized into 3 distinct categories (categories 1, 2, and 3) by cluster analysis. The percentages of cattle in categories 1, 2, and 3 were 10.2, 29.9, and 59.9%, respectively. Mean rumen pH for categories 1, 2, and 3 were 5.74±0.47, 6.18±0.44, and 6.33±0.43, respectively. Biochemically, categories 1, 2, and 3 were characterized, respectively, as follows: mean total VFA concentration (mM), 100.74±23.22, 94.79±18.13, and 62.81±15.65; mean ammonia concentration (mM), 2.46±2.02, 7.79±3.75, and 3.64±2.03; and mean d-lactate concentration (mM), 0.34±0.86, 0.28±0.97, and 0.12±0.51. Category 1 cows had higher propionate, valerate, isovalerate, and caproate concentrations and were of lower parity than cows in other categories. Cows in category 1 had higher milk production but lower milk fat content than category 2 cows. Herds were assigned to 1 of 3 groups according to the numbers of cows assigned to each category. Herds with ≥3 of the 8 cows in category 1 were classified as acidotic. Herds with ≥3 of the 8 cows in category 2 were classified as having suboptimal rumen function, and herds with ≥3 of the 8 cows in category 3 were classified as normal. Herds that had 3 or more of the 8 cows in category 1 (acidotic herds) had diets with higher energy and nonfiber carbohydrate contents and a lower neutral detergent fiber content than herds with a high prevalence of category 2 or 3 cows. The lack of significance of a herd effect in the statistical models developed suggests that the categories were robust across production systems, in which diets varied from all pasture to total mixed rations. A point prevalence of 10% (95% credible interval, 8 to 12%) of cows with an acidotic profile indicates a high risk for acidosis in the cattle sampled. The higher nonfiber carbohydrate and lower neutral detergent fiber contents of diets for herds with a high prevalence of category 1 cows (acidotic herds) indicates that there may be opportunities to reduce the risk of acidosis by dietary manipulation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: American Dairy Science Association
Copyright: 2008 American Dairy Science Association
Item Control Page Item Control Page