Abomasal infusion of ground corn and ammonium chloride in early-lactating Holstein-Friesian dairy cows to induce hindgut and metabolic acidosis

Sanne van Gastelen*, Jan Dijkstra, Kelly Nichols, André Bannink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Next to rumen acidosis, other forms of acidosis may also affect lactational performance of cows. Therefore, the effects of hindgut acidosis, induced via abomasal infusion of ground corn, and metabolic acidosis, induced via abomasal infusion of NH4Cl, were studied in cows in early lactation. Observations were made on intake and digestibility of nutrients, lactation performance, energy and N partitioning, blood acid-base status, and rumen and hindgut fermentation characteristics. In a 6 × 6 Latin square design, 6 rumen-fistulated, second-lactation Holstein-Friesian dairy cows (48 ± 17 d in milk) were subjected to 5 d of continuous abomasal infusions of water as control, or solutions of 2.5 mol of NH4Cl/d, 5.0 mol of NH4Cl/d, 3.0 kg of ground corn/d, or the combination of ground corn with either of the 2 NH4Cl levels, followed by 2 d of rest. Treatment solutions were administered via peristaltic pumps through infusion lines attached to the rumen cannula plug and an abomasal infusion line with a flexible disk (equipped with holes to allow digesta passage) to secure its placement through the sulcus omasi. A total mixed ration consisting of 70% grass silage and 30% concentrate (on dry matter basis) was fed at 95% of ad libitum intake of individual cows. The experiment was conducted in climate respiration chambers to determine feed intake, lactation performance, and energy and N balance. Abomasal infusion of NH4Cl affected the acid-base status of the cows, but more strongly when in combination with abomasal infusion of ground corn. Metabolic acidosis (defined as a blood pH < 7.40, blood HCO3 concentration < 25.0 mmol/L, and a negative base excess) was observed with 5.0 mol of NH4Cl/d, 3.0 kg of ground corn/d + 2.5 mol of NH4Cl/d, and 3.0 kg of ground corn/d + 5.0 mol of NH4Cl/d. Metabolic acidosis was associated with decreased milk lactose content, metabolic body weight, energy retained as protein, and fecal N excretion, and increased urine N excretion, and tended to decrease intake of nutrients. Digestibility of several nutrients increased with 5.0 mol of NH4Cl/d, likely as a result of decreased intake. Abomasal ground corn infusion resulted in hindgut acidosis, where fecal pH decreased from 6.86 without ground corn to 6.00 with ground corn, regardless of NH4Cl level. The decrease in fecal pH was likely the result of increased hindgut fermentation, evidenced by increased fecal volatile fatty acid concentrations. Hindgut acidosis was associated with decreased digestibility of nutrients, except for starch, which increased, and crude fat, which was not affected. No systemic inflammatory response was observed, suggesting that the hindgut epithelium was not severely affected by the more acidic conditions or barrier damage. Abomasal infusion of ground corn increased milk yield, milk protein and lactose yield, fecal N excretion, N use efficiency, and total energy retained as well as energy retained in fat, and reduced milk fat content and urine N excretion.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • dairy cow
  • early lactation
  • hindgut acidosis
  • metabolic acidosis

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