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In vivo production and molar percentages of volatile fatty acids in the rumen: a quantitative review by an empirical approach

  • P. Nozière (a1), F. Glasser (a1) and D. Sauvant (a2)


Despite their major contribution to the energy supply of ruminants, the production of volatile fatty acids (VFA) in the rumen is still poorly predicted by rumen models. We have developed an empirical approach, based on the interpretation of large bibliographic databases gathering published in vivo measurements of ruminal VFA production rate (PR), rates of duodenal and faecal digestion and molar percentages of VFA in the rumen. These databases, covering a wide range of intake levels and dietary composition, were studied by meta-analysis using within-experiment models. We established models to quantify response laws of total VFA-PR and individual VFA molar percentages in the rumen to variations in intake level and dietary composition. The rumen fermentable organic matter (RfOM) intake, estimated from detailed knowledge of the chemical composition of diets according to INRA Feed Tables, appears as an accurate explanatory variable of measured total VFA-PR, with an average increment of 8.03 ± 0.64 mol total VFA/kg RfOM intake. Similar results were obtained when total VFA-PR was estimated from measured apparent RfOM (total VFA-PR/RfOM averaging 8.3 ± 1.2 mol/kg). The VFA molar percentages were related to dry matter intake and measured digestible organic matter (OM), digestible NDF and rumen starch digestibility, with root mean square error of 1.23, 1.45, 0.88 and 0.41 mol/100 mol total VFA for acetate, propionate, butyrate and minor VFA, respectively, with no effect of pH on the residuals. Stoichiometry coefficients were calculated from the slopes of the relationships between individual VFA production (estimated from measured apparent RfOM and individual VFA molar percentages) and measured fermented fractions. Coefficients averaged, respectively, 66, 17, 14 and 3 mol/100 mol for NDF; 41, 44, 12 and 4 mol/100 mol for starch; and 46, 35, 13 and 6 mol/100 mol for crude protein. Their use to predict VFA molar percentages appear relevant for most dietary conditions, that is, when the digested NDF/digested OM ratio exceeded 0.12. This study provides a quantitative review on VFA yield in the rumen. It contributes to the development of feed evaluation systems based on nutrient fluxes.


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In vivo production and molar percentages of volatile fatty acids in the rumen: a quantitative review by an empirical approach

  • P. Nozière (a1), F. Glasser (a1) and D. Sauvant (a2)


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