Integration of ruminal metabolism in dairy cattle.

J. L. Firkins, Alexander Nikolov Hristov, M. B. Hall, G. A. Varga, N. R. St-Pierre

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


An important objective is to identify nutrients or dietary factors that are most critical for advancing our knowledge of, and improving our ability to predict, milk protein production. The Dairy NRC (2001) model is sensitive to prediction of microbial protein synthesis, which is among the most important component of models integrating requirement and corresponding supply of metabolizable protein or amino acids. There are a variety of important considerations when assessing appropriate use of microbial marker methodology. Statistical formulas and examples are included to document and explain limitations in using a calibration equation from a source publication to predict duodenal flow of purine bases from measured urinary purine derivatives in a future study, and an improved approach was derived. Sources of specific carbohydrate rumen-degraded protein components probably explain microbial interactions and differences among studies. Changes in microbial populations might explain the variation in ruminal outflow of biohydrogenation intermediates that modify milk fat secretion. Finally, microbial protein synthesis can be better integrated with the production of volatile fatty acids, which do not necessarily reflect volatile fatty acid molar proportions in the rumen. The gut and splanchnic tissues metabolize varying amounts of volatile fatty acids, and propionate has important hormonal responses influencing milk protein percentage. Integration of ruminal metabolism with that in the mammary and peripheral tissues can be improved to increase the efficiency of conversion of dietary nutrients into milk components for more efficient milk production with decreased environmental impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume89 Suppl 1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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