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How to reduce the risk for rumen acidosis?

Rumen acidosis represents varying degrees of acidity in the rumen. Different volatile fatty acids (VFA’s) have different roles in the cow. The video demonstrates the formation of VFA at different levels of rumen pH. It becomes clear that a rumen pH of 5.5 to 6.0 optimises the production of propionate, prevents lactate production and still facilitates generation of acetate. This ensures an optimum yield of milk butterfat.

As the rumen pH rises above 6.0, acetate is produced at the expense of propionate. This will also increase methane production. The rumen produces 1 mole of methane for every mole of acetate. This loss is not a feature of propionate production and so propionate is a much more efficient recipient of fermentation energy than acetate. Also Van Kessel and Russell (1996) have shown that methane production from CO2 (carbon dioxide) and H2 (hydrogen) by rumen methanogens is inhibited at rumen pH values below 6.0. Therefore by keeping the rumen pH below 6.0, methane losses should be minimized.

Question is “How to maximise the production of propionate with an optimum amount of acetate still being produced by the rumen?”

Increasing energy density of cattle diets may result in metabolic problems, such as (subclinical) rumen acidosis (SARA). The result is substantial economic losses due to lower milk yield and reduced animal performance. In short, the negative effects of SARA can be prevented by minimising the time that rumen environment spends below pH 5.5.

Video: rumen pH and production of volatile fatty acids in the rumen

Acid Buf Marine Minerals

Acid Buf is a 100% natural animal feed ingredient. It meets the nutrient requirements for nutrition in dairy cows, beef cattle, goat and sheep. The basis is a marine mineral complex with 74 bioavailable minerals. The mode of action for Acid Buf is pH controlled. When the rumen gets more acidic, Acid Buf starts to release its bioavailable marine minerals. This means that every animal will benefit.

To illustrate, calcium and magnesium on the basis of Acid Buf is completely solubilised within a broad pH range. Hence, it’s easy for cattle to maintain an optimum rumen pH for a long period of time. As a result rumen fermentation and feed efficiency improves.

Cow signals of (sub-acute) rumen acidosis:

  • reduced feed intake
  • poor body condition and weight loss
  • diarrhoea
  • increased heart rate
  • increased breathing rate

Different VFA’s have different roles in the digestive system of cattle:

  • propionate is the main driver of milk output
  • acetate and butyrate are driving milk butterfat
  • overall cattle productivity is determined by the ratios of VFA’s

Acid Buf reduces the risk for rumen acidosis

In 2004 the University of Stellenbosch demonstrated the effect of Acid Buf on total VFA output in the rumen. Dairy cows receiving 50 gram Acid Buf per day challenged rumen acidosis. The acetate to propionae ratio was only 2.5 : 1 and total VFA concentration over the day was limited to 80 – 85 m.moles.

Increasing the dosage of Acid Buf to 80 – 100 gram per day improved rumen fermentation significantly and corrected for rumen acidosis. Dairy cows increased milk production by 5 kg, up to a milk yield of 45 kg per cow and day. Further increases in Acid Buf supply resulted in a rumen pH in excess of 6.0 being recorded for long periods in the day. The acetate : propionate ratio increased to 3.3 : 1. Hence, the total VFA production dropped to 100 m.moles. As a concequence milk output fell back by up to 3 kg per head from the peak.

The changes in VFA concentration with increasing rumen pH can be expressed as a bell shaped curve which is the consequence of changes in rumen efficiency. Changes in rumen pH pofile is directly correlated to the VFA profile in the rumen.

Acid Buf will maximise the production of propionate with an optimum amount of acetate still being produced!

Acid Buf VFA profile Stellenbosch 2004


The study carried out in dairy cows at the University of Stellenbosch (2004) are consistent with our other scientific publications. A daily intake of 80 grams Acid Buf for dairy cattle receiving high concentrate diets will support high milk production without compromising milk solids content. See also How to improve milk butterfat?

80 grams of Acid Buf will keep the rumen healthy by preventing rumen pH in the acidosis danger area. It would furthermore condition the rumen such that excess acetate production and too high pH levels would be prevented. Hence, Acid Buf controls methane for sustainable milk production and provides bioavailable marine minerals at the same time.

Acid Buf offers nutritional solutions for:

  • long term optimum pH in the rumen
  • healthy rumen function, reduce subclinical rumen acidosis (SARA)
  • greater milk production & better milk solids
  • reducing methane

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