Passage of feed in dairy cows : use of stable isotopes to estimate passage kinetics through the digestive tract of dairy cows

D. Warner

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

Abstract

Dairy cows possess a unique digestive system to digest fibre-rich diets. Ingested feed is retained and degraded in the rumen by the enteric microbial population and is passed from the rumen to the following segments of the digestive tract. Passage of feed determines energy and protein supply to the animal and is a key parameter in several feed evaluation models for ruminants. Yet, quantitative data on passage of feed and particularly of single feed components are limited. Common techniques used to determine fractional passage rates of feed typically include indigestible markers that are not able to describe passage of distinct feed components. This thesis describes the use of stable isotope labelled feed components as a novel marker to determine feed type and feed component specific fractional passage rates. In a series of in vivoexperiments, fractional passage rates of a typical dairy ration, including grass silage, maize silage and concentrates, were determined. The use of carbon (13C) and nitrogen (15N) stable isotopes as an internal marker inherent to the diet allowed to specifically determine fractional passage rates of plant cell walls such as structural fibre, fibre-bound nitrogen, n-alkanes, and intracellular components such as starch and total nitrogen. For grass silage and maize silage, stable isotopes gave slower fractional rumen passage rates compared to the commonly used external marker chromium mordanted fibre; for concentrates, stable isotopes gave faster rates than the external marker. Among isotopic labelled fractions, 13C-labelled fibre and 15N-labelled fibre-bound nitrogen gave the slowest rates. The isotopic signature of single feed components and further application of stable isotopes on a wider range of feeds and feed components offers scope for the future for a more detailed insight into nutrient-specific passage kinetics. This will ultimately allow to quantify nutrient supply in response to changes in diet composition and quality, and model animal response in relation to optimal animal performance, environmental and animal-health issues.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Hendriks, Wouter, Promotor
  • Pellikaan, Wilbert, Co-promotor
  • Dijkstra, Jan, Co-promotor
Award date30 Sep 2013
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789461736833
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • dairy cows
  • dairy cattle
  • feeds
  • nutrients
  • digestion
  • digestive tract
  • kinetics
  • stable isotopes
  • digestibility markers
  • cattle feeding
  • animal nutrition
  • nutrition physiology

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