1. Protozoa in rumen contents and omasal effluent of growing wethers were counted. The wethers were equipped with rumen and abomasal cannulas, and omasal sleeves attached to the omasal-abomasal orifice. Rumen fluid dilution rates were elevated by continuous infusions of hypertonic mineral solutions (34 litres/d) for 24 d. Rumen contents and omasal effluent were sampled between 9 and 21 h during the last 10 d of each experiment.
2. Protozoa1 concentrations in omasal effluent were only 0.24.3 those found in the rumen under normal conditions. The ratio of protozoal concentrations in rumen: those in omasal effluent was for small Diplodinium spp. 4.6 (SD 0.9), for Ophryoscolex spp. 4.3 (SD 1.0), for Dasytricha ruminantium 4.0 (SD 0.5), for Isotricha spp. 3.8 (SD 0.8), for Entodinium spp. 3.6 (SD 0.9) and for Polyplastron multivesiculatum 2.6 (SD 0.5).
3. Elevation of rumen fluid dilution rate by 20 and 55% respectively, increased protozoal concentrations in omasal effluents from 22 to 33% and from 31 to 47% those in rumen contents. The apparent residence times of protozoa in the rumen were decreased 50% by the infusion of a mineral-salt solution. The increase in rumen fluid dilution rate had no significant effect on concentrations of protozoa in the rumen or on the differences of the apparent residence times between different species. The apparent residence time of holotrichs remained the same before and after infusion of the mineral-salt solution.
4. Apparent residence times of individual species of protozoa in the rumen were, under normal feeding conditions, 2.55 d, and were four to six times longer than the mean residence time of CrEDTA in the rumen.