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Alltech® IFM

Why the Alltech® In Vitro Fermentation Model?

The Alltech® In Vitro Fermentation Model (IFM) is a support tool for nutritionists to evaluate and troubleshoot rations in order to maximize feed efficiency and reduce ever-rising feed costs.  Nutritionists rely on nutritional models and chemical feed characteristics to formulate diets. However, this information is static and does not provide a complete evaluation of nutrient availability. Alltech IFM is a dynamic diagnostic tool that measures the digestion of feed in the rumen in real time. This allows us to get a comprehensive view of feed digestion as opposed to a snapshot from a single point in time.    

What is Alltech IFM?

Alltech IFM simulates rumen fermentation to evaluate the energy and protein availability of feeds. This technique is based on measuring gas production from microbial digestion as a proxy for real-time digestion. Since we continuously measure gas production, we are able to separate the energy contribution of feed ingredients by the rate of digestion. We can describe how much and at what rate carbohydrates from quickly degrading sources (e.g., starches and sugars) and slowly degrading sources (e.g., fiber) are contributing to the balance of the ration. We also measure microbial biomass to indicate protein availability and protein-to-energy balance in the ration. Alltech IFM analysis also includes a basic wet chemistry to provide a complete picture of the feed sample.

How does it work?

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

  • Alltech IFM measures gas production, taking into account all nutrients fermented (solubles and insolubles). Total gas production is separated into quickly and slowly fermenting carbohydrates using mathematical equations.
  • Estimates of rates of degradation of the different carbohydrate fractions provide additional information on the nutritive value of the feed.
  • Measurement of fermentation byproducts includes:
  • Yield of microbial biomass (i.e., source of metabolizable protein to the animal).
  • Volatile fatty acid profile (i.e., source of energy to the animal).
  • Total gas production.
  • In vitro dry matter digestibility.

Alltech IFM applications:

  • Nutritional tool to optimize ruminal function, ruminal starch availability and fiber digestion in the rumen, and protein balance.
  • Single test provides more accurate, informed recommendations to optimize feed in a relatively short period of time and at low cost.
  • Troubleshoot potential problems and develop supplementation strategies to optimize feed efficiency and profitability, which are tailored to the customer’s feeding programs.
  • Estimates of gas production can help identify total mixed rations that are less efficient and 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.