To evaluate the reticulorumen pH of beef feedlot steers throughout the feeding period and to assess the association between the respective durations that the reticulorumen pH was ≤ 5.6 (subacute ruminal acidosis) and ≤ 5.2 (acute ruminal acidosis) and liver abscess severity.
59 feedlot steers (mean body weight, 349.5 kg).
On day 0, each steer was orally administered an electronic bolus that monitored the reticulorumen pH every 10 minutes for 150 days. Steers were transitioned from a starter to intermediate ration on day 8 (transition 1) and from the intermediate to finish ration on day 19 (transition 2). The ration carbohydrate and megacalorie contents increased with each transition. During each transition, the lower megacalorie ration was fed at the 8:00 AM feeding and the higher megacalorie ration was fed at the 2:00 PM feeding for 3 days before the higher megacalorie ration was fed extensively. Steers were sent to slaughter after 182 days; each carcass was assessed for liver abscesses.
The diurnal reticulorumen pH pattern was characterized by a peak at 7:00 AM and nadir at 8:00 PM. The mean percentages of time that the reticulorumen pH was ≤ 5.6 and ≤ 5.2 were more than 10-fold greater during transition 1, compared with during transition 2, and were significantly greater for steers with extensive liver abscesses than for steers without extensive liver abscesses.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Efforts to minimize the duration that the reticulorumen pH is ≤ 5.6 might mitigate liver abscess formation in feedlot cattle.