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Modelling the implications of feeding strategy on rumen fermentation and functioning of the rumen wall

Bannink, A., France, J., Lopez, S., Gerrits, W.J.J., Kebreab, E., Tamminga, S., Dijkstra, J.
Animal feed science and technology 2008 v.143 no.1-4 pp. 3-26
cow feeding, mathematical models, ruminant nutrition, volatile fatty acids, nutrient availability, rumen epithelium, rumen microorganisms, rumen fermentation, cows, lipid metabolism
The present study gives a critique of the mechanisms involved with the formation of volatile fatty acid (VFA) formed in the lumen of the reticulo-rumen, the absorption of VFA across the reticulo-rumen wall, and the intra-epithelial metabolism of VFA by reticulo-rumen epithelium. In contrast to the empirical treatment of these aspects in previous rumen modelling studies, a mechanistic model was developed which represents each of these aspects separately. Because tissues of the reticulo-rumen may strongly adapt to changing nutritional conditions, this adaptive response was included in the model. The model enabled an evaluation of the implications of VFA yield on the development of the rumen wall, on the transport of VFA, on the extent of intra-epithelial metabolism of VFA, and on the consequences for the supply of VFA to the ruminant. The current modelling effort allowed the integration of existing knowledge on each of these aspects and the model reproduced some essential characteristics of experimental observations on VFA absorption and metabolism. Although further development is still needed, the model appears helpful to distinguish elements that require specific consideration when evaluating rates of net portal appearance of VFA, or when testing hypothesis on the interaction between formation, absorption and intra-epithelial metabolism of VFA under various experimental conditions.