– Francis L. Fluharty, Ph.D., Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University (excerpted from Optimizing Performance of Cattle by Increasing the Digestion of Forages with Protein Supplementation)
Ruminant animals in grazing situations need to maximize forage digestion in order to increase performance parameters such as average daily gain or milk production. Factors that limit the animal’s ability to reach production goals may include the forage’s energy and protein content, or availability. These factors are impacted by the forage species, maturity, lignin concentration, and ruminal ammonia requirements of cellulose digesting bacterial species.
However, unlike grain-based diets, there is a time period, referred to as the lag phase, required for cellulose digesting bacteria to attach to forage particles. This creates a situation where protein availability in the rumen must match the timing of energy availability in order to achieve optimum microbial digestion. Continue reading