Effects of volatile fatty acid supply on their absorption and on water kinetics in the rumen of sheep sustained by intragastric infusions

S. Lopez, F.D.D. Hovell, J. Dijkstra, J. France

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Three sheep fitted with a ruminal cannula and an abomasal catheter were used to study water kinetics and absorption of VFA infused continuously into the rumen. The effects of changing VFA concentrations in the rumen by shifting VFA infusion rates were investigated in an experiment with a 3 x 3 Latin square design. On experimental days, the animals received the basal infusion rate of VFA (271 mmol/h) during the first 2 h. Each animal then received VFA at a different rate (135, 394, or 511 mmol/h) for the next 7.5 h. Using soluble markers (polyethylene glycol and Cr-EDTA), ruminal volume, liquid outflow, apparent water absorption, and VFA absorption rates were estimated. There were no significant effects of VFA infusion rate on ruminal volume and water kinetics. As the VFA infusion rate was increased, VFA concentration and osmolality in the rumen were increased and pH was decreased. There was a biphasic response of liquid outflow to changes in the total VFA concentration in the rumen, as both variables increased together up to a total VFA concentration of 80.1 mM, whereas, beyond that concentration, liquid outflow remained stable at an average rate of 407 mL/h. There were significant linear (P = 0.003) and quadratic (P = 0.001) effects of VFA infusion rate on the VFA absorption rate, confirming that VFA absorption in the rumen is mainly a concentration-dependent process. The proportion of total VFA supplied that was absorbed in the rumen was 0.845 (0.822, 0;877, and 0.910 for acetate, propionate, and butyrate, respectively). The molar proportions of acetate, propionate, and butyrate absorbed were affected by the level of VFA infusion in the rumen, indicating that this level affected to a different extent the absorption of the different acids.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2609-2626
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • portal recovery
  • mineral salts
  • metabolism
  • epithelium
  • disappearance
  • reticulorumen
  • fermentation
  • ruminants
  • transport
  • passage


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