Acidosis is a common metabolic condition in cattle. It typically occurs when the rumen pH is out of balance. Ruminal acidosis occurs when acid is produced at a rapid rate, usually faster than it can be absorbed or used by the cow.
Here are some details about acidosis and its symptoms, causes and prevention.
What Is Acidosis?
Ruminal acidosis occurs when the rumen pH drops to less than 5.8. The normal pH is between 6.5 and 7.0. When the pH drops below the expected level, movement in the rumen stops while the cow’s appetite and weight gain plummet.
Subsequently, a change in the rumen’s acidity alters the rumen flora, and unhealthy bacteria multiply. These unhealthy bacteria start producing more lactic acid, and the acidosis gets worse.
What Are the Symptoms of Acidosis?
When acidosis is acute, it results in debilitating illness with liver abscesses, which can eventually lead to death. You may also notice that cattle will develop scours and a high heart rate while refusing to eat.
The most common symptoms of sub-acute acidosis include:
- Elevated respiratory and pulse rate
- Increased temperature
- Weight loss
- Lower feed intake
What Causes Acidosis?
Various factors can lead to the rapid increase of lactic acid in the rumen. Some of them include:
- Feeding cattle with a diet that has a high amount of fermentable grains
- Switching rapidly from high forage to feed with high concentrate
- Feeding cattle a low-fiber diet
- The presence of mold and spores that produce mycotoxins in the body
When you change rapidly to a diet with plenty of starch and sugar, the starch will encourage the growth of bacteria that produce lactic acid. This issue will eventually increase the pH of the rumen and cause acidosis.
How to Prevent Acidosis
To reduce the risk of cattle developing acidosis, you must help them maintain good rumen health. You can do so by encouraging an active population of healthy microbes. You should:
- Provide a consistent supply of dry matter: Doing so gives the microbes an adequate supply of nutrients to keep the rumen’s pH balanced.
- Let cattle have adequate fiber: Fiber promotes healthy movement in the rumen and increases saliva production for lower rumen acidity.
- Select feed grains carefully: Choose feed grains that have a thick hull so that the rumen bacteria have more time to digest the fiber in the hull. Examples of healthy grains include whole wheat, barley, oats, corn and sorghum.
- Process grains carefully: Using tempered grain can help the cow better utilize the starch, reducing the rate of fermentation and acidity.
- Give the cattle a prebiotic: A good prebiotic like CattlActive® will help the cow’s healthy bacteria grow and stabilize the rumen’s pH. These bacteria also help the cow absorb essential nutrients and promote weight gain and production.
How to Treat Acidosis
If you observe the symptoms of acidosis in any of your cattle, you need to act fast. Take the following steps:
- Consult your vet immediately
- Give the cow thiamine
- Give them CattlActive® orally
- Use sodium bicarbonate to reduce acidity in the rumen
Learn More About Acidosis Prevention
Using an all-natural supplement like CattlActive® will help prevent the occurrence of acidosis in your cattle. For more details about this unique product, visit our CattlActive® product page. Reach out to our team via our contact page for answers to any other questions you have.