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Rumen Health Essential


Manage winter ration challenges



Managing Winter Ration Challenges

How often do we complain about wet summers and lack of sunshine? Well not this year! As I write this  we have had some welcome rainfall but nothing like enough to help many top up dwindling forage stocks I suspect. The drought conditions have made it highly likely that many will be feeding rations with a higher proportion of concentrates, to help offset reduced stocks of silages over the coming winter months.

Rumen Health Essential

Rumen health should always be at the forefront of our minds, to ensure that we make the most efficient use of the ration provided. As that ration is likely to be more precious than ever this winter, care should be taken to ensure that we look after the rumen in the process. 

It is important to remember that when we think we are feeding the cow that we are actually feeding the rumen bacteria, the key to efficient production and performance. The health of rumen microbe is central to rumen function and is important for optimum milk yield and butterfat production. Limited forage stocks this winter, mean that you could be feeding a more concentrated ration which could impact on rumen pH.

Concentrates, which are fast fermenting feeds, will produce excessive levels of lactic acid, leading to lower rumen pH conditions.  A consistently low rumen pH, can result  in metabolic disorders such as Sub Acute Rumen Acidosis (SARA) and reduced production performance. A low rumen pH will also have a negative effect on fibre digestion, reducing both diet efficiency and milk fat yield.

Normal rumen pH should be as close to pH 6.0 as possible, to ensure optimal rumen function. When the pH drops below 5.8 then fibre digestion can be reduced, ultimately reducing milk production and feed efficiency.

Use a good quality phased release rumen buffer such as Combi-BUF™ to help keep rumen pH levels under control. There are many different forms of rumen buffers and alkalisers. Some products fall into the acid neutralising/alkaliser category, whilst other products are categorised as a rumen buffer (absorbing acid).

Combi-BUF™ was developed by the ruminant technical team at Mole Valley Farmers. By blending a range of buffering  and  alkalising  components into one product, a phased release conditioning effect is achieved inside the rumen over a longer period of time.



  • Helps promote an improved rumen and microbial environment by raising rumen pH levels
  • Helps encourage higher dry matter intakes
  • Allows energy rich diets to be fed containing higher levels of fermentable carbohydrates
  • Enhanced beneficial rumen conditioning
  • Effective at promoting volatile fatty acid production, leading to raised milk yield and fat levels
  • Enhanced beneficial rumen bacteria activity
  • Promotes fibre digestion. Incorporate 100-200g per cow per day

Incorporate 100-200g per cow per day, dependent on the level of acid in the diet and SARA challenge.



X1-LIVE is an excellent quality live yeast which represents great value  for money.

Why use live yeast?

  • Live yeast has been shown to reduce levels of SARA and maintain an optimum pH
  • Live yeast works particularly well when the rumen is under greater challenge, with diets containing higher levels of cereals and rapidly fermentable starch
  • Assists when feeding wet or acidic forages
  • Live yeasts can have a probiotic beneficial effect on the gut, enhancing the rumen flora profile to help improve the efficiency of ruminant digestion, reducing the incidence of SARA.

When starch breaks down in the rumen it results in the production of an acid which lowers rumen pH. The lower the pH, the happier the acid producing bacteria which in turn produce more acid. This vicious circle,  results  in  the  rumen  becoming more and more acidic. Some rumen  bacteria produce acid, others use up acid. The  oxygen  scavenging  action  of  live yeast promotes acid using bacteria, thus reducing  acidity levels.

These rumen bacteria require an anaerobic environment (one without air). As a cow eats, she ingests oxygen. This reduces the efficiency of the rumen by taking up space (approximatley 15%) meaning the rumen environment is not ideal for ‘good’ bacteria, as it is not anaerobic. 

Combi-BUF and X1-LIVE are part of the Mole Vitality Farmpack™ range, exclusive to Mole Valley Farmers.

For more information on rumen buffering or X1-LIVE, please speak to your Mole Valley Feed Solutions Advisor or call the Mineral Line on 01278 420481 or email [email protected] #MVFHotTopics 



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 Newsletter 652

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