Dairy Health - IFM

    Rumen Function

    Key points to consider:

    1. The rumen breaks down feed.
      The rumen is a large fermentation vat containing microbial populations of bacteria, protozoa and fungi. These microbes produce enzymes that digest fiber, starch, and protein into glucose and ammonia.
    2. The cow’s diet can affect rumen function.
      One of the main causes of rumen upset is acidosis (low rumen pH), often caused by high starch rations or feed with small particle size. Too much starch, and the VFAs can build up and reduce the rumen pH.

      Rations that are high in fat can impede microbial digestion in the rumen. Poor quality forage may also negatively impact rumen function, leading to poor fiber digestion and reduced energy availability.
    3. Poor rumen function affects overall health and productivity.
      Poor fiber digestion due to rumen upset can manifest itself in reduced feed intake and increased amounts of undigested fiber in feces. Reduced milk fat and laminitis are two of the most common symptoms of subpar rumen function.

    In vitro Fermentation Model (IFM)

    The In Vitro Fermentation Model (IFM) is a diagnostic tool that simulates rumen fermentation and evaluates the nutritional value of a total mixed ration in terms of digestibility and end products of fermentation. 
    IFM evaluates the relative balance of the ration, such as the various types of carbohydrate for sustained energy supply as well as the balance between protein and energy for maximum microbial protein production. IFM can help nutritionists determine if protein supply may be limiting microbial protein production and help make recommendations to address that issue. In addition, IFM researchers can identify opportunities in the ration to take advantage of reformulation.

    How does IFM work?

    Feed samples are incubated using rumen fluid and a buffer system to mimic natural rumen fermentation in an oxygen-free environment. >As digestion progresses, volumes of fermentation gases such as methane and carbon dioxide are continuously monitored using an automated system.

    1. IFM measures gas production taking into account all nutrients fermented (solubles and insolubles). Total gas production is separated into fast fermenting carbohydrates (ex. starches and sugars) and slow fermenting carbohydrates (ex. fibers).
    2. Estimates of gas production can help identify TMR inefficiencies that produce excessive gas per unit of dry matter digested. Ingredient and chemical composition are evaluated in conjunction with gas pool sizes to identify sources of potential problems.
    3. Estimated rates of degradation of the different carbohydrate fractions provide additional information on the nutritive value of the feed.

    Measurements of fermentation byproducts:

    • Yield of microbial biomass (source of metabolizable protein to the animal)
    • Volatile fatty acid (VFA) profile (source of energy to the animal)
    • Total gas production
    • In vitro dry matter digestibility

    For more information on TMR sampling and submission, please contact your local Alltech Office or use the contact information below.


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