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Keywords:

  • cows;
  • acidosis;
  • milk fat content;
  • odd-chain fatty acids;
  • trans-10 fatty acids

Summary

Two lactating dairy cows fitted with a rumen cannula received successively diets containing 0%, 20%, 34% and again 0% of wheat on a dry matter basis. After 5, 10 and 11 days, ruminal pH was measured between 8:00 and 16:00 hours, and milk was analysed for fat content and fatty acid profile. Diets with 20% and 34% wheat induced a marginal and a severe subacute ruminal acidosis respectively. After 11 days, diets with wheat strongly reduced the milk yield and milk fat content, increased the proportions of C8:0 to C13:0 even- or odd-chain fatty acids, C18:2 n-6 and C18:3 n-3 fatty acids but decreased the proportions of C18:0 and cis-9 C18:1 fatty acids. Wheat also increased the proportions of trans-5 to trans-10 C18:1, the latter exhibiting a 10-fold increase with 34% of wheat compared with value during the initial 0% wheat period. There was also an increase of trans-10, cis-12 C18:2 fatty acid and a decrease of trans-11 to trans-16 C18:1 fatty acids. The evolution during adaptation or after return to a 0% wheat diet was rapid for pH but much slower for the fatty acid profile. The mean ruminal pH was closely related to milk fat content, the proportion of odd-chain fatty acids (linear relationship) and the ratio of trans-10 C18:1/trans-11 C18:1 (nonlinear relationship). Such changes in fatty acid profile suggested a possible use for non-invasive diagnosis of subacute ruminal acidosis.