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) from Alltech is a support tool to evaluate and troubleshoot dairy rations to maximize feed efficiency and combat ever-rising feed costs. IFM evaluates the energy availability of total mixed rations (TMR).

Dual pool mathematical models are used to evaluate digestion kinetics of the carbohydrate fractions present in the feed. This process also involves a complete proximate analysis of the sample submitted.

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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