by Howard Blalock, Ph.D., VP of Technical Services
A trial conducted at the University of Illinois utilizing QLF’s Energy Balancer product, resulted in an average rumen butyrate increase of 27% relative to cattle receiving a dry supplement (Stierwalt et al., 2017, Journal of Animal Science). Butyrate is one of the main 3 volatile fatty acids (VFA) produced during rumen fermentation of feed, acetate and propionate being the other two. During typical rumen fermentation, butyrate concentration is expected to be significantly less than that of acetate or propionate. Despite the lower relative proportion, butyrate is a powerful end product of rumen fermentation. Butyrate is a preferred energy source of the rumen epithelial cells and can be used extensively as an energy source throughout the digestive tract.
As an energy source for the rumen epithelium, butyrate has the ability to promote the development of epithelial cells and inhibit epithelial breakdown (Table 1). As an end result, ruminal butyrate helps promote efficient absorption of nutrients, especially VFA. The accumulation of VFA in the rumen results in reduced rumen pH levels, potentially contributing to an acidotic situation. Due to the highly fermentable nature of feeds fed to feedlot cattle, it is important to prevent this accumulation to allow the rumen bacteria to function more effectively and efficiently. A study conducted by Guan et al. (2008), published in FEMS Microbiology Letters, examined microbial ecology in feedlot cattle looking for correlations with improved feed efficiency. They reported that the most efficient cattle had elevated levels of rumen butyrate.
Table 1. Rumen development of Holstein calf thru 26 days treated with sodium buturate
Gorka et al., 2009, Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology
A trial conducted at South Dakota State University demonstrated that QLF Energy Balancer fed at 9% of the diet improved feed efficiency 6.8 and 3.7% compared to a dry and conventional liquid supplement, respectively (Pritchard et al., 2015, SDSU Beef Report). The Energy Balancer was used as a direct replacement for corn and supplement in this trial, demonstrating the product’s ability to directly replace corn in addition to providing supplemental vitamins and minerals. It appears likely that the use of Energy Balancer liquid supplements may impact rumen fermentation in a manner that promotes the efficiency of energy utilization and overall rumen efficiency while also being able to offset corn usage at times when it is economically beneficial.
For more information, please contact your local QLF District Representative.