Objective To determine the prevalence of subacute rumen acidosis (SARA) in beef cattle grazing lush pasture and the effect of monensin on reducing SARA and improving animal performance. Design Commercial Angus and Murray Grey steers received a monensin slow-release capsule (n = 19) or remained untreated (n = 19). Cattle grazed an oats crop or tetraploid ryegrass pasture for a total of 91 days. Rumen fluid pH, volatile fatty acids (VFA) and lactic acid concentrations and body weight data were collected prior to treatment and again 28, 56 and 91 days after treatment. Changes in measures over time were analysed using mixed model repeated measures analysis. Differences in average daily gain between treatment groups were determined. Results The prevalence of SARA was low during the study, with only one animal satisfying criteria for SARA at one time point. Cattle treated with monensin capsules were 11.9kg heavier at the completion of the study compared with untreated controls (414.5 ± 3.88kg vs 402.6 ± 4.03kg, P = 0.04). Rumen VFA and L- and D-lactate levels did not differ between cattle treated with monensin and untreated cattle. However, the ratio of propionate to acetate plus two times butyrate was higher (P < 0.001) when cattle were treated with monensin. Conclusions Subacute rumen acidosis was not consistently detected under the conditions of the study. The higher body weight of cattle treated with monensin may have been due to improved energy utilisation of the pasture, indicated by increased propionate proportions in the rumen, rather than prevention of SARA.
- Average daily gain
- Subacute rumen acidosis