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Keywords:

  • Acidosis;
  • Ammonia;
  • Rumen

Background

Cattle are commonly fed soybean meal (SBM) and accidental intoxication sometimes occurs.

Objectives

To describe the biologic and clinical features of SBM intoxication.

Animals

Four steers with ruminal cannula.

Methods

Controlled experimental trial. SBM was administered once at 1 and 2% of body weight (BW) via cannula at 2-month intervals.

Results

This study showed a 2-phase pathogenic course for 2% BW SBM intoxication. The 1st phase (until 10 hours post-administration) is restricted to ruminal modification with volatile fatty acid overproduction and moderate ruminal ammonia concentration. In the 2nd phase (12–22 hours post-administration), ruminal pH returned to initial values and marked ammonia accumulation occurred in blood, inducing severe metabolic alkalosis with hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and delayed aciduria (30–40 hours post-administration). Among the clinical signs, nervous signs were only observed during the period with increased plasma ammonia concentration. At 1% BW, ruminal and blood modifications were less pronounced than at 2% BW, and clinical signs were not observed.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Ammonia accumulation in blood during the second phase is the consequence of continued ammonia production, decreased carbohydrate fermentation, and overwhelming of hepatic detoxifying capacity. Because ammonia accumulation is associated with the clinical signs, treatment of SBM intoxication could be similar to treatment of urea intoxication, including rumenotomy, oral administration of cold water and vinegar, and measurement of ruminal pH.