Type of publication:
Type of document:
Castillo-Lopez, E; Haselmann, A; Petri, RM; Knaus, W; Zebeli, Q
Evaluation of fecal fermentation profile and bacterial community in organically fed dairy cows consuming forage-rich diets with different particle sizes.
J Dairy Sci. 2020; 103(9):8020-8033
Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:
Castillo Lopez Ezequias
Vetmed Research Units
Institute of Animal Nutrition and Functional Plant Compounds
- Organic cattle farming encourages the use of forage-rich diets, and the reduction of particle size has been suggested as an approach to improve forage utilization and enhance nutrient intake of cows. However, reducing forage particle size increases passage rate, as well as the flow of potentially fermentable nutrients out of the rumen, and the consequences for hindgut fermentation have not been evaluated yet. This study evaluated the effects of decreasing dietary forage particle size on the fecal short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) profile and the bacterial community structure of dairy cows fed forage-based rations. Twenty-one organically fed lactating Holstein cows (4 primiparous and 17 multiparous; mean and standard deviation 703 ± 65 kg body weight, 135 ± 104 days in milk) were divided into 2 groups and fed 1 of 2 diets for 34 d. Diets contained 20% concentrate and 80% forage (dry matter basis), and were fed either as a control with a forage geometric mean particle size of 52 mm (CON; 11 cows) or as a diet with the forage particle size reduced to a geometric mean size of 7 mm (RED; 10 cows). Fecal samples were collected at the end of the experiment, and samples were immediately frozen at -20°C. Samples were analyzed for SCFA, and the fecal bacterial community was evaluated using 16S rRNA sequencing. Data showed that the concentration of total SCFA was not affected by treatment, but the proportion of propionate, a key glucogenic precursor in cattle, tended to be greater for RED (13.3 and 13.8 ± 0.1%, respectively). The predominant bacterial phyla, including Firmicutes (58.0 ± 0.7%), Bacteroidetes (26.9 ± 0.4%), and Verrucomicrobia (4.0 ± 0.4%), were not affected by forage particle size. Family Lachnospiraceae increased in relative abundance when the RED diet was fed (12.1 and 13.9 ± 0.5% for CON and RED, respectively), and genera Acetitomaculum (1.1 and 1.8 ± 0.2%), Turicibacter (0.7 and 0.9 ± 0.1%), and Ruminobacter (0.1 and 0.4 ± 0.1%) increased in relative abundance when RED was fed. In addition, relative abundance of some fecal bacterial taxa was correlated with major fecal SCFA and pH. Reducing the particle size of forages, from 52 to 7 mm geometric mean particle size, maintained fecal concentration of total SCFA and tended to enhance propionate concentration, without risk of dysbiosis. Thus, results suggest that reduction of forage particle size represents an effective approach to optimizing forage utilization while maintaining hindgut fermentation and fecal bacterial diversity in dairy cows fed forage-rich diets.Copyright © 2020 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.