Skip to main content

Ruminal Acidosis


Acidosis is a common metabolic condition that can affect all types of cattle. It typically occurs when the rumen pH is out of balance and acid is produced at a rate faster than it can be absorbed or used by the animal.

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 pH of a normal rumen sits between 6.5 and 7.0. When the pH drops below the ideal level, movement in the rumen stops, impacting appetite and feed conversion. This, in turn, stimulates more acid production and creates a spike in cortisol levels.

Subsequently, a change in the rumen’s acidity decreases the rumen’s beneficial microbial populations, allowing the harmful microbes to multiply. As the population of “bad” microbes increases, the toxins they release, in addition to a spike in lactic acid causes the pH to drop significantly.

What Are the Symptoms of Acidosis and Sub-acute Ruminal Acidosis (SARA)?

When acidosis is acute, causing a rapid spike in acid production, it results in debilitating illnesses that can include liver abscesses, sometimes resulting in mortality. It is also not uncommon that cattle will develop scours and an elevated heart rate while becoming inappetent.

The most common symptoms of sub-acute ruminal acidosis include:

  • Lethargy
  • Elevated respiratory and pulse rate
  • Increased temperature
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased feed intake

What Causes Acidosis?

Various factors can lead to the rapid increase of acid in the rumen. Some of these include:

  • Feeding cattle concentrated feeds, such as 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 there is a rapid change to a diet high in starch and sugar, the starch will encourage the growth of microbes that produce lactic acid. This issue will eventually decrease the pH of the rumen and cause acidosis.

How to Prevent Acidosis

To reduce the risk of cattle developing acidosis, maintaining good rumen health is essential. This can be achieved by encouraging an active population of healthy microbes. This can include:

  • Providing a consistent supply of dry forage: Doing so gives the microbes an adequate supply of nutrients to keep the rumen’s pH balanced.
  • Ensure cattle receive 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 microbes have more time to digest the fiber in the hull.
  • 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 microbial populations to grow and stabilize the rumen’s pH. These microbes also help the cow absorb essential nutrients and promote weight gain and production.

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.

Get in touch with a CattlActive® consultant today to learn more about how CattlActive® can help improve the ruminal health of your cattle!

Close Menu

© 2024 Pro Earth Animal Health.