Abstract #85

# 85
Cows at a high risk for subacute rumen acidosis exhibit different feeding behavior.
Kira Macmillan*1, Xiaosheng Gao1, Masahito Oba1, 1University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Previous studies reported that cows fed the same diet have a large variation in rumen pH; cows at a high-risk of sub-acute rumen acidosis (SARA) have a lower pH for a longer period of time than low-risk cows. The objective of this study was to determine if feeding behavior is different between cows with a high or low risk for SARA. We hypothesized that high-risk cows would eat longer during each meal, contributing to a lower pH. Sixteen ruminally cannulated lactating cows (DIM = 265 ± 36; BW = 632 ± 80 kg) were fed a diet consisting of 35% forage and 65% concentrate once daily to increase the risk of SARA. After a 17-d diet adaptation period, ruminal pH was measured every 30 s over a 24-h period. Cows were classified as high or low risk to SARA based on an acidosis index (area of pH <5.8/DMI). Feeding behavior of animals was observed for the same 24-h period; each animal was checked every 5 min and each behavior seen was assumed to last for 5 min. The 24-h observation period was split into 3 8-h time periods following feeding, and eating behavior was summarized for each period. All response variables were evaluated for the group effect using the PROC TTEST procedure of SAS. Minimum pH ranged from 5.13 to 6.10 among the 16 cows fed the same diet. The 7 high-risk cows had a higher acidosis index than the 9 low-risk cows (8.03 vs. 0.11, P = 0.002). Despite no significant difference in DMI (P = 0.87), high-risk cows spent more time eating in the first 8-h period after feeding (186 vs. 153 min, P = 0.014) and less in the third 8-h period (19 vs. 43 min, P = 0.012) than low-risk cows. In the third period, high-risk cows spent more time ruminating (243 vs. 197 min, P = 0.012). Average meal duration was longer for high-risk cows (92 vs. 59 min, P = 0.011). Our results suggest that feeding behavior may be a contributing factor to SARA, where cows with a high-risk for low rumen pH eat for longer periods of time during the first 8-h after feeding. Increasing feeding frequency to encourage distribution of eating throughout the day may be an effective approach to mitigate SARA, which warrants further investigation.

Key Words: subacute rumen acidosis, feeding behavior