What are the best feeds for farm animals? What is the digestive process like in ruminants?
What are the best criteria for selecting feed for ruminants?
The best feeds for livestock used reduce the risk of acidosis
What about the digestion of fibers and fats?
If we are breeders of cows, bulls or goats, it is certainly our priority to ensure their sustainable development. The leading factor in determining this is the choice of a well-balanced feed. Cows, bulls, goats, horses, given their anatomy, are ruminants. So let’s first look at the features that characterize the digestive system of this group of animals. The best feed for farm animals should have a balanced composition of nutritional values, which will be discussed in the following paragraphs. Thus, the ruminant stomach is multi-chambered. Each of the chambers performs its function in the process of digesting food and has its own name. These are in turn: rumen, reticulum and books; forming the stomach. The abomasum, on the other hand, is the stomach proper.
The food that ruminants swallow is not completely fragmented. Getting to the rumen, it is subjected to a fermentation process due to a significant amount of symbiotic anaerobic bacteria. The decomposition of hard-to-digest cellulose is affected by the presence of a whole mass of ciliates that participate in its digestion. Ciliates are the most highly organized protozoa, whose movement is controlled by cilia.
In the next phase of digestion, the fermented food is returned to the mouth. There, the ruminant chews food again and this is possible thanks to the so-called esophageal gutter. It is responsible for regulating food movements and transporting food after chewing to the books. From there, the food goes to the abomasum, where proper digestion takes place
It is obvious that in the interests of the sustainability of our ruminants, we should choose feed that is as rich in appropriate nutrients as possible. In this aspect, we must focus primarily on the proper selection of fiber, protein, starch and minerals. Let us remember, however, that the amount of these ingredients should be adequate to the method of both cultivation and storage of plants that we feed our animals on a daily basis. If we want, for example, the cows we breed to generate a lot of milk, let’s make sure that the feed additives are tasty. Undoubtedly, good taste will make cows more willing to eat silage prepared by us. It is best to invest in various types of fermenters, the purpose of which is to improve the taste and quality of food. On average, 1 kg of dry matter translates into the production of about two liters of milk.
In the above headline appeared the enigmatic name of a disease occurring in ruminants – acidosis. What is it and how to minimize the risk of its occurrence? Let’s start with the fact that the rate of degradation of dry matter fed to ruminants and the decomposition of starch is directly related to the so-called acidosis. The latest research shows that we should not be concerned with the amount of starch in the feed, but with the way and rate of its decomposition in the rumen. In this context, therefore, we list: starch, the so-called bypass, soluble and slowly degradable. Each of the above types of starch present in silage poses a risk of acidosis. Therefore, it is worth neutralizing its effects with appropriate feed additives available on the market. We can buy those in liquid form, which will largely absorb excess starch in the rumen. In the discussed issue, a popular synonym is intertwined: rapid degradation. It is, of course, about the rapid breakdown of starch, directly threatening the occurrence of acidosis. It is then worth using neutralizing agents. They are available on the market.
We know well from biology lessons that the fibers contained in leaves or in silage are not digestive problems for ruminants. However, the fiber content means that the animal needs more energy to digest it. Fat works in a similar way, but it is also important what fats we are dealing with: digestible in the rumen and bypass. The first of these can negatively affect the fermentation process. To reduce the unfavorable processes occurring in the rumen, we can also use feed additives to our feed. The best feeds for livestock contain a balanced amount of all nutrients. This will minimize the digestive problems of ruminants, which will result in high efficiency, e.g. in milk production.