Effects of inoculation with rumen fluid on nutrient digestibility, growth performance and rumen fermentation of early weaned lambs

R.Z. Zhong et al. - Livestock Science

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

There is limited literature focused on the direct rumen contents inoculation in early weaned lambs, especially on effects of different type of rumen contents inoculation on growth performance. This intervention may have a practical value in ruminant production systems.

What is the problem?

Producers adopt early weaning to enable rapid growth of the lamb and to allow ewe to return to breeding condition quickly. However, early weaning can induce various stresses to lambs.A way to minimise stress at weaning is to quickly transition young lambs from the stage of pre-ruminant to ruminant to digesting solid rations.

To date, several researchers have investigated the development of fauna and flora in the rumen of young ruminants. Major findings have concluded that  50–150 days are necessary to establish a mixed type of rumen fauna at the adult ruminant level in the rumen of lambs. Hence, early establishment of microbes in the rumen becomes essential for rumen development and successful weaning if earlier than 50 days old.

The aim of this study was to determine effects of diets inoculated with fresh or lyophilized rumen fluid on growth rate, digestibility, and rumen fermentation of early weaned lambs.

What did the research involve?

  • Thirty (Ujumqin – Chinese local breed) weaned male lambs (28 days old) with a live weight of 10.3 kg were randomly assigned to one of 3 treatments for 56 days feeding period to study effects of inoculation with rumen fluid from mature sheep on growth performance and rumen fermentation.

Treatments consisted of:

  • Starter grain ration (SGR, control),
  • Fed SGR and inoculated with 100 ml fresh rumen fluid (FRF) daily for 7 days
  • Fed SGR and inoculated with 100 ml lyophilized rumen fluid (LRF) for 7 days.

What were the key findings?

  • Results showed that there were no differences in DM intake, apparent digestibility of crude protein and acid detergent fiber (ADF), ruminal pH, and ruminal concentrations of ammonia N and total volatile fatty acid (VFA).
  • However, both inoculations decreased feed conversion rate (FCR).
  • Inoculation of FRF increased average daily gain (ADG), apparent digestibilities of DM and NDF, while inoculation of LRF increased apparent digestibility of fat.

Final Comment

In conclusion, FRF inoculation was beneficial to improving growth performance of lambs during the transition. However, further research is needed to explain the mechanism of action of the FRF as probiotic.

2014 - China - R.Z. Zhong et al. - Livestock Science
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