Future of Ruminant Nutrition

Good ruminant function is vital if we are going to get the best performance out of ruminant livestock. As such understanding how the rumen functions and adopting appropriate feeding strategies is central to nutritional advice and diet formulation.

Ruminants are unique in that they do not directly digest the feedstuffs they consume, instead feed ingredients are fermented in the rumen and it is the end products of this fermentation which are the main nutrients for the animals. Efficient fermentation is therefore essential if digestive performance and subsequent animal performance is to be maximised.

The end products of fermentation are acids which can cause the pH of the rumen to fall. In situations where too much acid is produced metabolic problems such as sub-acute rumen acidosis (SARA) can occur. Apart from causing significant reductions in digestive efficiency and performance, SARA can cause health problems such as lameness and diarrhoea. If left unchecked full acidosis will result and problems such as bloat can occur.maxammon graph

The conundrum for nutritionists is that the most effective way to drive performance in beef cattle is to increase the cereal and therefore starch content of the diet. Cereals however when fermented in the rumen produce a strong acid called propionic acid. This in turn lowers rumen pH, impairs digestive efficiency and can result in SARA or full acidosis. How then can we more safely feed cereals to our livestock?

Over the years numerous feeding strategies, ingredients and additives have been developed to help overcome this problem and reduce the risks of feeding higher cereal levels. Today we have a new and exciting tool at our disposal – Maxammon. Feedback from farmers around the world is telling us that Maxammon is a nutritional game changer, allowing safer feeding of higher cereal levels with significant performance benefits.

International bmaxammoneef nutrition consultant Gerry Giggins stated recently “I am seeing performance levels in beef animals which I didn’t think were possible. Maxammon is enabling me to feed higher cereal levels and really push my client’s performance and profitability.”

Maxammon is a grain treatment which raises the pH of the grain from 6.5 to 7 to between 8.5 and 9.0. This makes the grain more alkaline and counters the acid produced during fermentation. Maxammon has the additional advantage that it lifts grain protein by 4.5 units enabling us to reduce the amount of vegetable proteins in the diet, a significant financial saving.blog graph1

Maxammon is exceptionally versatile and can be used on home produced grain at harvest or bought-in dry grain. For farmers that do not have the facilities to treat grain Wynnstay can supply Maxammon pretreated grain or complete feed blends which contain Maxammon treated cereals.

Studies with rumen pH boluses, which measure rumen pH, have shown that feeding the more alkaline, higher pH Maxammon cereals lifts the pH in the rumen away from the acidic levels which can lead to SARA and acidosis.

The following are just a sample of the typical comments and feedback we are getting from beef farmers.

Ben Baron, Leitfie, Alyth, Perthshire: 

“I felt the bulls settled onto the diet very quickly with no acidosis problems. This winter the bulls fed on Maxammon treated barley are already 7% up on last year. From weaning to early March the bulls have achieved an average liveweight gain of 1.47kg/day.
“I ran out of Maxammon grain and went on to dried grain and the liveweight gain dropped.”

Andrew Hodge, Rulesmains, Duns, Berwickshire: 

“As well as saving in feed costs, the cattle performed better with no acidosis or stomach problems. The absence of barley in the dung was noticeable and there was no looseness. The treated barley is obviously kinder on the gut. The cattle definitely do better on it”

James Feighery, TARA Farms, Dunboyne, County Meath, Ireland: 

“Bull performance is now consistently topping 1.8kg/head/day. We get great results in animal performance and health”

Neil Blyth, Middleton House Farm, Elwick, Hartlepool: 

“From weaning to finish I’m getting a daily liveweight gain of 1.8kg”

Murdoch Duncan, William Duncan & Company, Insch, Aberdeenshire: 

“The performance of my youngstock has never been better. We sold calves at an average age of 11 months and an average weight of 470kg. Since introducing Maxammon to the system we are selling calves at similar weights 2
months earlier.”

This type of performance improvement is being seen in many different feeding systems and because of the marked advantages more and more farmers are converting to Maxammon. Willie Thomson, Technical Director of Maxammon creators Harbro Ltd said recently “We are seeing a real sea-change in how ruminant animals are being fed, it really is the future of ruminant nutrition.”


Written by Steve Kenyon – Technical Director at Strathclyde Nutrition Ltd

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