Effects of defaunation and various nitrogen supplementation regimens on microbial numbers and activity in the rumen of sheep.

J. T. Hsu, G. C. Fahey, N. R. Merchen, R. I. Mackie

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Five sheep (average BW 62 kg) were fed 65% roughage: 35% concentrate diets (CP = 15%) in a 5 x 5 Latin square design to study the effects of combinations of defaunation and N supplements (soybean meal [SBM], corn gluten meal [CGM], blood meal [BM], urea, and casein) differing in ruminal degradation on ruminal microbial numbers and activity. Diets were fed twice daily (DM intake 1,759 g/d). Defaunation was accomplished with doses of 30 ml of alkanate 3SL3.sheep-1.d-1 for 3 d with 2 d of fasting. Treatment 1 (control) involved feeding faunated sheep a diet in which the supplemental N was 67% SBM N and 33% urea N. Treatment 2 involved feeding defaunated sheep the same diet as the control. Treatments 3, 4, and 5 involved feeding defaunated sheep diets in which the supplemental N source was either 67% CGM-BM N (CGM and BM combined on a 1:1 N ratio): 33% urea N, or 33% CGM-BM N:67% urea N or 33% CGM-BM N:33% urea N:33% casein N, respectively. Compared with the faunated control, defaunation (Treatments 2, 3, 4, and 5) increased (P less than .05) total direct counts of ruminal bacteria (2.7 vs 1.3 x 10(11)/ml), fungal zoospores (2.8 vs 1.4 x 10(5)/ml), and ruminal microbial protease activity (1.4 vs 1.0 mg azocasein/[ml ruminal fluid.h]). Defaunation did not have a consistent effect on ruminal microbial deaminase activity. Compared with the control, defaunation resulted in lower (P less than .05) total perchloric acid-soluble amino N in ruminal fluid at 4 and 10 h after the morning feeding. Defaunation did not decrease (P greater than .05) total free amino acid concentrations in ruminal fluid, but it altered the profile of free amino acids. Although defaunation increased (P less than .05) ruminal bacterial numbers, no increases in total microbial CP or OM concentrations in ruminal contents were observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1279-1289
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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