Grass that is currently returning to growth after the drought is extremely lush and low in fibre. As a result, Sub-Acute Rumen Acidosis is likely to be a bigger problem than ever this autumn.
With the recent improvement in growth rates, there will be a trend towards zero grazing over the coming weeks. The lush leafy grass that exists on farms at this time is even more pronounced this year due to the rapid uptake of nitrates. This grass is generally of the very highest digestibility and if consumed by the dairy cow in adequate amounts, it will contribute to improved milk yields and milk protein yields.
Despite having numerous benefits, this highly digestible forage is extremely low in structural fibre and low in dry matter content which can leave the cow prone to bouts of Sub-Acute Rumen Acidosis (SARA). SARA significantly reduces rumen pH which thereby negatively affects rumen efficiency and herd performance.This condition also has a significant impact on the yield of milk solids and consequently milk price.
Solutions to alleviate SARA
What measures can be implemented on farms to combat this condition?
The addition of a structural fibre source such as straw to the diet has traditionally been a worthwhile consideration, however due to current straw prices, this is an expensive solution.
Alternative options such as Rumen buffers are recognised worldwide as an excellent remedy for this condition. In Ireland, the use of rumen buffers is highly recognised in the formulation of purchased rations but not as much as an antidote to correcting low pH levels in grazed grass. Here at Agritech, we have been involved in the production of rumen buffers through our Rumicare range.
Rumicare Rumen Buffer
Rumicare was developed to help counteract rumen acidity and promote adequate rumen protozoa populations in intensively fed animals and animals consuming low fibre diets such as highly digestible grazed grass. Rumicare is on the market for almost ten years now and is widely used on Irish farms and also enjoys worldwide reputation as it is exported to countries as far away as Australia.
Rumicare is a totally unique blend of phased released rumen buffering minerals and Rumigest Yeast in the one bag. These minerals have strong alkaline properties which counteract rumen acidity right throughout each 24 hour period. The addition of Rumigest Yeast further contributes to healthy rumen protozoa populations.
The tell-tale signs of SARA are sometimes difficult to detect, however our Agritech technical team have listed some of the most common symptoms which they have witnessed on farms.
- Bubbles on dung.
- Cows swishing their tails (due to passing acidic manure).
- Animals performing 5-10% below capacity.
- Increased lameness levels.
- Less than 80% of animals which are lying down were observed chewing the cud.
- Mildly depressed demeanour.
Note: Using Rumicare at 150 grams per head per day will help counter this underlying condition.
For further assistance or advice do not hesitate to contact your local Agritech distributor or Agritech Technical Advisor.