A generic multistage compartmental model for interpreting gas production profiles

S. Lopez, J. Dijkstra, M.S. Dhanoa, A. Bannink, E. Kebreab, J. France

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The gas production technique has become a key tool in feed evaluation and rumen fermentation studies. The value of the technique relies on modelling experimental data to obtain estimates of rumen degradation parameters. One of the first models used to describe gas production profiles was the simple exponential equation, although it has some important limitations when applied to gas production curves: (1) the intercept is positive, (2) only fits diminishing returns profiles, and (3) models gas per se (i.e. fails to link gas production to substrate degradation). The first limitation is overcome mathematically by re-parameterisation, making the intercept zero. The second limitation can be resolved by introducing a discrete lag to mimic sigmoidicity or by using sigmoidal functions. The third limitation is overcome by modelling substrate degradation from gas production profiles, so that equations are derived from mechanistic principles, and all parameters have biological meaning. The link between substrate degradation and gas production allows for extent of substrate degradation in the rumen to be determined for a given passage rate. Several multi-phase models have been proposed, but these were originally derived empirically and assumptions made a posteriori. Based on the conceptual difference between stage and phase, a multi-stage approach is proposed, a generic model presented and the accompanying equations derived. A two-stage model with four pools (substrate, intermediate products, fermentation end-products and by-products such as fermentation gas) is illustrated. An interpretation of the breakdown of polysaccharides to monosaccharides (first stage) and the fermentation of these monosaccharides to yield gas and other products (VFA and microbial matter) (second stage) is presented. Gas production profiles were used to demonstrate fitting the two-stage model and to consider its ability to describe gas production curves.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationModelling Nutrient Digestion and Utilisation in Farm Animals
EditorsD. Sauvant, J. van Milgen, P. Faverdin, N. Friggens
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
Number of pages432
ISBN (Print)9789086861569
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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