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Assessment of fermentation characteristics of ruminant foods using an automated pressure evaluation system

  • Z. S. Davies (a1), A. E. Brooks (a1), G. W. Griffith (a2) and M. K. Theodorou (a1)

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Gas production from the in vitro digestion of forage with buffered rumen fluid can be measured and used to determine forage digestibility and fermentation kinetics. Rumen micro-organisms ferment carbohydrate to gases (CO2 and CH4) and volatile fatty acids (VFA). The VFA produced also cause CO2 to be released from the C02-bicarbonate buffer. Theodorou et al. (1994) introduced the principle of measuring gas production by pressure increase using an electronic pressure transducer and sealed gas-tight culture bottles. Gases accumulate in the head space of the culture bottles as fermentation proceeds. The gas is measured and then released at regular intervals throughout the fermentation. This procedure was automated (Davies et al., 1995). The automated pressure evaluation system (APES) has advantages over the manual pressure transducer technique (Theodorou et al., 1994) in that it is less labour intensive and has been shown to be more sensitive to food characteristics (Davies et al., 1995). The APES, used in this work, has been improved to include new switches and a filtering system. It has been used here to determine the fermentation characteristics of various ruminant foods: ryegrass, wheat grain and ryegrass silage.

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Davies, D. R., Theodorou, M. K., Baughan, J., Brooks, A. E. and Newbold, J. R. 1995. An automated pressure evaluation system (APES) for determining the fermentation characteristics of ruminant feeds. Annates de Zootechnie 44: 36.
Theodorou, M. K., Williams, B. A., Dhanoa, M. S., McAllan, A. B. and France, J. 1994. A simple gas production method using a pressure transducer to determine the fermentation kinetics of ruminant feeds. Animal Feed Science and Technology 48: 185197.

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