Skip to main content Accessibility help

Behavioural adaptations of sheep to repeated acidosis challenges and effect of yeast supplementation

  • L. Commun (a1) (a2), M. Silberberg (a1), M. M. Mialon (a1), C. Martin (a1) and I. Veissier (a1)...


This study aims to determine whether sheep modify their feeding and general behaviour when they undergo acidosis challenge, whether these modifications are maintained when acidosis challenges are repeated and whether yeast supplementation affects these modifications. Twelve rumen-cannulated wethers fed concentrate (wheat) and forage (hay) were exposed to three 28-day periods consisting of a 23-day recovery phase (20% of wheat) followed by a 5-day acidosis challenge (60% of wheat). Both diets limited food intake to 90% of ad libitum intake. Six sheep received a daily supplementation of a live yeast product, six received a placebo. Ruminal pH was recorded continuously. Daily consumption of wheat, hay, water and weekly consumption of salt were monitored. Behavioural observations were performed twice in each period: once under the recovery phase and once under acidosis challenge. These observations included video recordings over 24 h (time budget), social tests (mixing with another sheep for 5 min) and nociception tests (CO2 hot laser). As expected, sheep spent more time with a ruminal pH below 5.6 during challenges than during recovery phases (12.5 v. 4.7 h/day). Sheep drank more water (3.87 v. 3.27 l/day) and ingested more salt (16 v. 11 g/day) during challenges. They also spent more time standing than during recovery phases, adopting more frequent alarm postures and reacting more slowly to the hot stimulus. More severe behavioural modifications were observed during the first challenge than the two other challenges. Significant concentrate refusals were observed during challenge 1: from days 3 to 5 of this challenge, sheep ate only half of the distributed concentrate. Sheep were also more active and more aggressive towards each other in challenge 1. These behavioural modifications disappeared as the challenges were repeated: no behavioural modifications were observed between challenges and recovery phases during periods 2 and 3, and furthermore, sheep rapidly ate all the concentrate distributed during the third challenge. Focusing on the effects of yeast, the only differences registered between the two groups concerned ruminal pH, that is, mean ruminal pH values in the supplemented group were lower during the first challenge (5.11 v. 5.60) but higher during the third challenge (5.84 v. 5.28). In conclusion, our experiment suggests sheep can adapt to acidosis challenges, especially with yeast supplementation. Otherwise, ruminal pH values remained low during challenges, indicating that the modifications of general and feeding behaviour in subacute ruminal acidosis situations are not due exclusively to low ruminal pH values.


Corresponding author


Hide All
AFNOR 1985. Dosage de l'amidon. Méthode polarimétrique. In Aliments des animaux. Méthodes d'analyses françaises et communautaires, 2ème édition, pp. 123125. Association Française de Normalisation, Paris, France.
Akaike, H 1974. A new look at the statistical model identification. IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control 19, 716723.
Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) 1990. Official methods of analysis, 14th edition. Association of Official Analytical Chemists, Arlington, VA, USA.
Borderas, TF, de Passille, AM, Rushen, J 2008. Behavior of dairy calves after a low dose of bacterial endotoxin. Journal of Animal Science 86, 29202927.
Brossard, L, Martin, C, Michalet-Doreau, B 2003. Ruminal fermentative parameters and blood acido-basic balance changes during the onset and recovery of induced latent acidosis in sheep. Animal Research 52, 513530.
Carter, RR, Grovum, WL 1990. Factors affecting the voluntary intake of food by sheep. 5. The inhibitory effect of hypertonicity in the rumen. British Journal of Nutrition 64, 285299.
Church, D, Pond, W 1988. Basic animal nutrition and feeding. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, USA.
Cottee, G, Kyriazakis, I, Widowski, TM, Lindinger, MI, Cant, JP, Duffield, TF, Osborne, VR, McBride, BW 2004. The effects of subacute ruminal acidosis on sodium bicarbonate-supplemented water intake for lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 87, 22482253.
Desire, L, Veissier, I, Despres, G, Boissy, A 2004. On the way to assess emotions in animals: do lambs (Ovis aries) evaluate an event through its suddenness, novelty, or unpredictability? Journal of Comparative Psychology 118, 363374.
Desnoyers, M, Duvaux-Ponter, C, Rigalma, K, Roussel, S, Martin, O, Giger-Reverdin, S 2008. Effect of concentrate percentage on ruminal pH and time-budget in dairy goats. Animal 2, 18021808.
DeVries, TJ, Dohme, F, Beauchemin, KA 2008. Repeated ruminal acidosis challenges in lactating dairy cows at high and low risk for developing acidosis: feed sorting. Journal of Dairy Science 91, 39583967.
Dijkstra, J, Boer, H, Van Bruchem, J, Bruining, M, Tamminga, S 1993. Absorption of volatile fatty acids from the rumen of lactating dairy cows as influenced by volatile fatty acid concentration, pH and rumen liquid volume. British Journal of Nutrition 69, 385396.
Dohme, F, DeVries, TJ, and Beauchemin, KA 2008. Repeated ruminal acidosis challenges in lactating dairy cows at high and low risk for developing acidosis: ruminal pH. Journal of Dairy Science 91, 35543567.
Dragomir, C, Sauvant, D, Peyraud, J-L, Giger-Reverdin, S, Michalet-Doreau, B 2008. Meta-analysis of 0 to 8 h post-prandial evolution of ruminal pH. Animal 2, 14371448.
Duncan, IJH 2002. Poultry welfare: science or subjectivity? British Poultry Science 43, 643652.
Forbes, JM 1968. The water intake of ewes. British Journal of Nutrition 22, 3343.
Gamaro, GD, Xavier, MH, Denardin, JD, Pilger, JA, Ely, DR, Ferreira, MBC, Dalmaz, C 1998. The effects of acute and repeated restraint stress on the nociceptive response in rats. Physiology & Behavior 63, 693697.
Greiveldinger, L, Veissier, I, Boissy, A 2009. Behavioural and physiological responses of lambs to controllable vs. uncontrollable aversive events. Psychoneuroendocrinology 34, 805814.
INRA 2007a. Valeur alimentaire des fourrages et des matières premières: tables et prévisions. In Alimentation des bovins, ovins et caprins, p. 167. Quae. Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Paris, France.
INRA 2007b. Les tables de la valeur des aliments: concentré, coproduit. In Alimentation des bovins, ovins et caprins, p. 262. Quae. Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Paris, France.
Jarrige, R, Dulphy, JP, Faverdin, P, Baumont, R, Demarquilly, C 1995. Activités d'ingestion et de rumination. In Nutrition des ruminants domestiques, pp. 123181. INRA, editions, Paris, France.
Jouany, JP 2006. Optimizing rumen functions in the close-up transition period and early lactation to drive dry matter intake and energy balance in cows. Animal Reproduction Science 96, 250264.
Keunen, JE, Plaizier, JC, Kyriazakis, L, Duffield, TF, Widowski, TM, Lindinger, MI, and McBride, BW 2002. Effects of a subacute ruminal acidosis model on the diet selection of dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 85, 33043313.
Kleen, JL, Hooijer, GA, Rehage, J, Noordhuizen, JP 2003. Subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA): a review. Journal of Veterinary Medicine. Physiology, Pathology, Clinical Medicine 50, 406414.
Krause, KM, Oetzel, GR 2006. Understanding and preventing subacute ruminal acidosis in dairy herds: a review. Animal Feed Science and Technology 126, 215236.
Kyriazakis, I, Tolkamp, BJ, Emmans, G 1999. Diet selection and animal state: an integrative framework. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 58, 765–772.
Langhans, W, Rossi, R, Scharrer, E 1995. Relationships between feed and water intake in ruminants. Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Ruminant Physiology, Stuttgart, Germany, 173pp.
Le Coustumier, J 1997. Les rations changent: les risques d'acidose aussi… Réflexions pratiques. Bulletin des Groupements Techniques Vétérinaires 3, 2530.
Ley, SJ, Livingston, A, Waterman, AE 1989. The effect of chronic clinical pain on thermal and mechanical thresholds in sheep. Pain 39, 353357.
Littell, RC, Henry, PR, Ammerman, CB 1998. Statistical analysis of repeated measures data using SAS procedures. Journal of Animal Science 76, 1216–1231.
Martin, C, Brossard, L, Doreau, M 2006. Mechanisms of appearance of ruminal acidosis and consequences on physiopathology and performances. Productions Animales 19, 93107.
Martin, C, Fernandez, I, Rochette, Y, Michalet-Doreau, B 2000. Is ruminal viscosity involved in the microbial fibrolytic activity decrease with high cereal diets? Proceedings of the XXVth Conference on Rumen Function, Chicago, Illinois, 25pp.
Nagaraja, TG, Titgemeyer, EC 2007. Ruminal acidosis in beef cattle: the current microbiological and nutritional outlook. Journal of Dairy Science 90, E17E38.
Nocek, JE 1997. Bovine acidosis: implications on laminitis. Journal of Dairy Science 80, 10051028.
Oetzel, G 2000. Clinical aspects of ruminal acidosis in dairy cattle. Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA.
Phy, TS, Provenza, FD 1998. Sheep fed grain prefer foods and solutions that attenuate acidosis. Journal of Animal Science 76, 954960.
Plaizier, J, Krause, D, Gozho, G, Mcbride, B 2008. Subacute ruminal acidosis in dairy cows: the physiological causes, incidence and consequences. Veterinary Journal 176, 2131.
Redbo, I, Nordblad, A 1997. Stereotypies in heifers are affected by feeding regime. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 53, 193202.
Rushen, J, Ladewig, J 1991. Stress-induced hypoalgesia and opioid inhibition of pigs responses to restraint. Physiology & Behavior 50, 10931096.
Sauvant, D, Meschy, F, Mertens, D 1999. Components of ruminal acidosis and acidogenic effects of diets. Productions Animales 12, 4960.
Sawyer, DC 1998. Pain control in small-animal patients. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 59, 135146.
Silberberg, M, Chaucheyras-Durand, F, Commun, L, Morgavi, DP, Martin, C 2008. Repeated ruminal acidogenic challenge in sheep, effects on pH and microbial ecosystem – influence of a yeast feed additive. 15ème Rencontres Recherches Ruminants, Paris, France, p. 280.
Stone, WC 1999. The effect of subclinical acidosis on milk components. Cornell Nutrition Conference for Feed Manufacturers, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, pp. 40–46.
Van Soest, PJ, Robertson, JB, Lewis, BA 1991. Methods for dietary fiber, neutral detergent fiber, and nonstarch polysaccharides in relation to animal nutrition. Journal of Dairy Science 74, 35833597.
Veissier, I, Le Neindre, P 1989. Weaning in calves – its effects on social organization. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 24, 4354.
Veissier, I, Boissy, A 2007. Stress and welfare: two complementary concepts that are intrinsically related to the animal's point of view. Physiology & Behavior 92, 429433.
Veissier, I, Rushen, J, Colwell, D, de Passille, AM 2000. A laser-based method for measuring thermal nociception of cattle. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 66, 289304.


Behavioural adaptations of sheep to repeated acidosis challenges and effect of yeast supplementation

  • L. Commun (a1) (a2), M. Silberberg (a1), M. M. Mialon (a1), C. Martin (a1) and I. Veissier (a1)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed