Stable isotope-labelled feed nutrients to assess nutrient-specific feed passage kinetics in ruminants

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Knowledge of digesta passage kinetics in ruminants is essential to predict nutrient supply to the animal in relation to optimal animal performance, environmental pollution and animal health. Fractional passage rates (FPR) of feed are widely used in modern feed evaluation systems and mechanistic rumen models, but data on nutrient-specific FPR are scarce. Such models generally rely on conventional externalmarker techniques, which do not always describe digesta passage kinetics in a satisfactorymanner.Heretheuse of stable isotope-labelled dietary nutrients as apromising novel tool to assess nutrient-specific passage kinetics is discussed. Some major limitations of this technique include a potential marker migration, a poor isotope distribution in the labelled feed and a differential disappearance rate of isotopes upon microbial fermentation in non-steady state conditions. Such limitations can often be circumvented by using intrinsically stable isotope-labelled plant material. Data are limited but indicate that external particulate markers overestimate rumen FPR of plant fibre compared with the internal stable isotope markers. Stable isotopes undergo the same digestive mechanism as the labelled feed components and are thus of particular interest to specifically measure passage kinetics of digestible dietary nutrients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-824
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • functional specific-gravity
  • small-particle kinetics
  • dairy-cows
  • grass silages
  • gastrointestinal-tract
  • mechanistic model
  • digestive-tract
  • milk-production
  • organic-matter
  • stem fractions


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