Sheep rumen metabolic development in response to age and dietary treatments

M. A. Lane, R. L. Baldwin VI, B. W. Jesse

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104 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined the time course of rumen metabolic development in the absence of solid feed consumption and the effect of delayed solid feed consumption on sheep rumen development. Twenty-seven lambs consumed milk replacer until slaughter at nine ages from 1 to 84 d (milk group). Three additional lambs consumed milk replacer from 1 to 48 d. From 49 d until slaughter at 84 d, these lambs were weaned onto solid feed (fed group). At slaughter, rumen contents were removed for VFA analysis and rumen epithelium was preserved for morphological examination. Rumen epithelial cells were isolated and incubated in media containing 2.5 mM U-[14C]-glucose or 10 mM 1-[14C]-butyrate. Rumen VFA concentrations did not change with age in lambs given milk replacer. At 84 d of age, intraruminal VFA concentrations were elevated in lambs consuming solid feed compared to 84-d-old lambs given milk replacer (P < .05). The number of ruminal papillae per square centimeter decreased (P < .05) while papillae length and width did not change significantly with age in rumen epithelium from lambs given milk replacer. At 84 d of age, rumen epithelium from lambs in the fed group had fewer and larger papillae/per square centimeter than rumen epithelium from lambs given milk replacer (P < .05). Rates of glucose and butyrate oxidation and acetoacetate and lactate production by rumen cells isolated from lambs given milk replacer did not change with age. β-Hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) production was undetectable before 42 d of age in lambs given milk replacer and increased to levels found in conventionally raised adults by 84 d. At 84 d there were no differences in rates of glucose and butyrate oxidation or acetoacetate and lactate production by rumen cells between the two treatment groups. Thus, the change in substrate oxidation from glucose to butyrate, indicative of rumen metabolic maturation, does not occur in the absence of solid feed consumption. However, the development of rumen ketogenesis, as evidenced by increased BHBA production, does occur in the absence of solid feed consumption. Delaying the initiation of solid feed consumption results in rumen morphological development but does not stimulate rumen metabolic development. Increased intraruminal VFA concentrations, earlier exposure to VFA, or a longer period of exposure to VFA may be required to induce the genes responsible for rumen metabolic development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1990-1996
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of animal science
Volume78
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

Keywords

  • Ketogenesis
  • Metabolism
  • Rumen
  • Sheep
  • Substrates
  • Volatile Fatty Acids

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