Estimates have been made of the amount of energy fermented and the amounts of microbial protein and total fatty acids synthesized in the rumen of sheep given various rations of hay and concentrates. The sheep had re-entrant cannulas in the proximal duodenum. The amount of protein synthesized was calculated from the flow of RNA-N at the duodenum. The change in the amount of total fatty acids between the food and the proximal duodenum was also measured.
In Expt 1, six sheep were given a low-protein basal diet and the same diet supplemented with a vegetable protein concentrate with or without tannin treatment. Some 72% of the digestible energy was apparently digested in the rumen and an estimated 150–170 g microbial protein were synthesized per kg organic matter apparently digested in the rumen. Differences due to the dietary treatments in the amount of energy digested and the amount of microbial protein synthesized were small and non-significant.
In Expt 2, the effect of a supplement of 20 g/day of cod-liver oil (CLO) on digestion of a mixed diet of hay and concentrates was examined in five sheep. Despite a marked fall in the ratio of acetic acid to propionic acid in the rumen volatile fatty acids when CLO was added, there were no clear differences in the amount of energy fermented in the rumen, which averaged 64% of the digestible energy, or in the efficiency of microbial protein synthesis, which averaged 200 g/kg organic matter apparently digested in the rumen. On the basal diet an increase of 6·7 g total fatty acid/day occurred in the stomach. This was presumably synthesized in the rumen. However when CLO was added to the diet, a decrease of 4·1 g total fatty acid/day was measured.