Modeling the distribution of ciliate protozoa in the reticulo-rumen using linear programming

S.E. Hook, J. Dijkstra, A.G. Wright, B.W. McBride, J. France

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12 Citations (Scopus)


The flow of ciliate protozoa from the reticulo-rumen is significantly less than expected given the total density of rumen protozoa present. To maintain their numbers in the reticulo-rumen, protozoa can be selectively retained through association with feed particles and the rumen wall. Few mathematical models have been designed to model rumen protozoa in both the free-living and attached phases, and the data used in the models were acquired using classical techniques. It has therefore become necessary to provide an updated model that more accurately represents these microorganisms and incorporates the recent literature on distribution, sequestration, and generation times. This paper represents a novel approach to synthesizing experimental data on rumen microorganisms in a quantitative and structured manner. The development of a linear programming model of rumen protozoa in an approximate steady state will be described and applied to data from healthy ruminants consuming commonly fed diets. In the model, protozoa associated with the liquid phase and protozoa attached to particulate matter or sequestered against the rumen wall are distinguished. Growth, passage, death, and transfer of protozoa between both pools are represented. The results from the model application using the contrasting diets of increased forage content versus increased starch content indicate that the majority of rumen protozoa, 63 to 90%, are found in the attached phase, either attached to feed particles or sequestered on the rumen wall. A slightly greater proportion of protozoa are found in the attached phase in animals fed a hay diet compared with a starch diet. This suggests that experimental protocols that only sample protozoa from the rumen fluid could be significantly underestimating the size of the protozoal population of the rumen. Further data are required on the distribution of ciliate protozoa in the rumen of healthy animals to improve model development, but the model described herein does indicate that the attached protozoal population is a significant component of the total rumen protozoal community. Key words: linear programming , protozoa , reticulorumen , sequestration
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-265
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • simulation technique rusitec
  • microbial protein-synthesis
  • plant-particles invitro
  • rumen protozoa
  • dairy-cows
  • in-vitro
  • passage rates
  • 2-aminoethylphosphonic acid
  • gastrointestinal-tract
  • ruminal fermentation

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