Rumen health & feed efficiency
Beef cattle are weaned and raised on pasture until they reach sufficient bodyweight to be moved to a feedlot for finishing. Pre-feedlot, their diet is composed mainly of grass, with little or no concentrates. On arriving at the feedlot, calves need to be transitioned to a high-concentrate diet, a process that requires the adaptation of rumen bacterial populations. It’s considered this change takes a minimum of 14 days; to achieve optimal rumen bacterial balance and avoid ruminal disorders, such as acidosis.
Organic acids are normal metabolites of ruminal fermentation, where rumen bacteria metabolise carbohydrates to organic acids (VFA and lactate). Volatile fatty acids (VFA) are used by the animal as a primary energy source. Because the goal of the feedlot phase is to finish cattle on a high-grain diet, after their previous forage-based regime, a period of transition is required to change the animal’s eating behaviour.