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The effect of pre-partum diet on the severity of post-partum ruminal acidosis in primiparous dairy cows



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Two experiments were conducted. In experiment 1, the objectives were: 1) to develop and evaluate the accuracy and precision of a new continuous ruminal pH measurement system 2) to determine the required frequency for pH electrode standardization and 3) to determine the effect of additional pre-partum concentrate when compared to NRC (2001) recommendations on post-partum ruminal acidosis in primiparous cows. Accuracy and precision of the Lethbridge Research Centre Ruminal pH measurement system (LRCpH) was determined by comparing LRCpH derived values against manual measurement. To determine the required frequency of electrode standardization, three treatments were imposed (24, 48, or 72 h of continuous measurement) and arranged in a repeated 3×3 Latin square design. The LRCpH accurately and precisely measured ruminal pH (repeated measures correlation coefficient = 0.97 and concordance correlation coefficient = 0.97 for 5-min averages). Changes in baseline mV readings for pH readings after 24, 48 or 72 h of ruminal incubation were not significantly different than zero, indicating that daily standardization of new electrodes was not essential. Using the LRCpH to measure ruminal pH overcomes animal mobility restrictions of previous systems. In experiment 2, the effect of additional concentrate allocation during the pre-partum period was evaluated using 14 ruminally cannulated Holstein heifers. The heifers were assigned to one of two feeding regimes pre-calving: 1) control treatment or 2) an intensive high concentrate feeding treatment (HC). All cows received the same lactation diet post-partum. Ruminal pH was measured continuously from d -5 to d +5, and for 3-consecutive days starting on d +17 ± 1.2, d +37 ± 1.4, and d +58 ± 1.5 relative to parturition. Feeding additional concentrate pre-partum did not reduce post-partum ruminal acidosis. In fact, animals fed the HC treatment had more daily episodes of acute acidosis and lower dry matter intake and body condition score than animals fed the control treatment. Day relative to parturition affected the occurrence and severity of ruminal acidosis with a dramatic increase in ruminal acidosis after parturition. This study demonstrates that feeding addition concentrate pre-partum did not reduce post-partum acidosis which emphasized the need to develop and implement feeding strategies that reduce this risk.



Acidosis, Dairy cow, Rumen pH



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Animal and Poultry Science


Animal and Poultry Science


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