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Avoid ‘leaky gut’ by preventing hindgut acidosis in cows

Important to know...

Feed a diet that stimulates rumen fermentation and prevents hindgut acidosis in cattle

During the transition to lactation, dairy cows are switched to a high energy diet and the amount of fast fermentable carbohydrates in the ration goes up. It is a well-known fact that this puts pressure on rumen fermentation, sometimes leading to subclinical rumen acidosis in cows (SARA).

More recent evidence suggests that acidosis in cows has an equally strong impact on the hindgut3,4,5. Signs that are typically attributed to acidosis in dairy cows, like for example loose and frothy faeces, are actually hindgut acidosis symptoms (see Figure 1)6,39.

Figure 1: pH and production of LPS in rumen, caecum and faeces of cows fed high amounts of grain compared to control cows. Increasing the level of starch in the diet resulted in acidosis in cows with a decreased pH and increased LPS both in the rumen and the hindgut (Adapted from Li et al, 2012).

How to prevent acidosis in cattle?

Compared to the rumen, the hindgut has less defense mechanisms against acidosis in cows40,41. The excessive hindgut fermentation and accumulating of organic acids reduces de pH within the hindgut and induces a shift of the microbiota population. This causes damage of gut epithelium, resulting in hindgut acidosis symptoms such as “leaky gut6”. It has also been shown that providing trace minerals in the form of sulfates can cause damage to the gut epithelium42. As a result of leaky gut, inflammation processes occur and immune cells are activated. These cells use glucose, which would normally be used for milk production or for processes to support fertility. This leads to a reduction of energy partitioning6. Avoiding acidosis in cattle therefore will therefore result in an increase of milk production.

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Managing hindgut acidosis in dairy cows for a healthy transition to lactation

Acidosis in cows is a common problem resulting in hindgut acidosis symptoms. Signs previously attributed to rumen acidosis in cattle are in fact of hindgut acidosis symptoms. Hindgut acidosis in cattle results in systemic immune activation which in term results in a reduction of milk production. Avoiding acidosis in cattle is therefore key for a successful lactation.

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The impact of systemic immune activation on the transition to lactation

Most of the problems during transition are responses to immune activation as a result of systemic inflammation. Rumen acidosis in cows is a well-known source of origin for this systemic immune activation, but there is more and more evidence that hindgut acidosis symptoms can also come from the small and large bowel. Soluble nutrients that should have been absorbed in the rumen find their way to the small and large intestine where they cause abnormal fermentation which causes problems with gut barrier function.

Download more research and documentation

You can access all of our documentation about Selko protocols, sustainable dairy farming and latest research insights about Dairry Cow transition management.

Improve hindgut health by reducing hindgut acidosis and by improving gut barrier function

Hindgut acidosis of dairy cows can be reduced with Selko LactiBute, which contains rumen protected calcium gluconate43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50. Gut barrier function can be improved by providing IntelliBond hydroxy form of trace minerals42, thus avoiding the negative effects of sulfates on hindgut health of dairy cows.

Download our technical brochure "Improving gut health of dairy cows".

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Selko | Solutions based science

Manage hindgut health to maintain dairy performance with Selko® LactiBute.

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Protect cow health and milk production with a complementary TMR pathogen screening worth €100. Early detection of contamination maintains herd performance. Contact us to claim your analysis.

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