Effect of supplemental sodium bicarbonate on nutrient digestibilities and ruminal pH measured continuously.

A. M. Kovacik, S. C. Loerch, B. A. Dehority

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A technique was used to monitor continuously ruminal pH using a strip-chart recording pH meter. Ruminal pH measurements were made in four ruminal-cannulated crossbred wether lambs (ag initial weight, 42.5 kg). For l.5 h daily, lambs were given ad libitum access to 50% concentrate-50% chopped orchardgrass hay diets supplements with 0, l.5, 3.0 and 4.5% sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). A split-plot Latin-square design was used to evaluate NaHCO3 level and day of adaptation on the percentage of time (%T) that ruminal pH was less than 6.6, 6.2, 5.8, 5.4 and 5.0. No effect due to day of adaptation existed for ruminal pH measurements (P more than .10), while the effect of dietary NaHCO3 level was quadratic (P more than .01) for the %T that ruminal pH was less than 5.4. To evaluate the effects of NaHCO3 on nutrient digestion, the same diets were fed to eight wether lambs (avg initial weight, 38 kg) at 85% of their ad libitum intake in a replicated 4 x 4 Latin-square digestion trial. Digestibilities of dry matter (DM), organic matter, N and fiber fractions were not different due to level of NaHCO3 (P greater than .10). Ash digestibility increased with increasing levels of dietary NaHCO3 (P less than .01). Four ruminal-cannulated mature Hereford steers were also given ad libitum access to the diets in a split-plot Latin-square trial to evaluate effects of dietary NaHCO3 level on ruminal pH and in situ digestion of soybean meal N and orchardgrass DM. During incubation of the dacron bags for 3, 6, 9, 12, 24 and 36 h also increased linearly with increasing level of NaHCO3. Ruminal solid and liquid dilution rates were not affected by level of supplemental NaHCO3 (P greater than .10). The results of these trials suggest that increasing level of dietary NaHCO3 greatly increases the proportion of time ruminal pH is above critical levels for ruminal protein and dry matter digestion, but does not affect total tract nutrient digestion when 50% concentrate diets are fed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-234
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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