Cattle

Rumen Microbes in Cows: It's All About the Bugs

Management : Cow & Calf

Management : Replacement

Nutrition : Supplements

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Purina Animal Nutrition



Greatness on the outside is born from greatness on the inside. What is the greatness happening on the inside of your cows? Have you ever considered the science behind how feed is digested? It's all about the bugs. It all starts with the microbes, or bugs, inside of the cows' rumen. These microbes include protozoa, bacteria, and fungi. They add up to more than a quadrillion rumen microbes per cow. Now, that's a lot of bugs. 
 
Each type of microbe plays a critical role. Let's break it down further. Bacteria carry out most of the digestion of sugars, starch, fiber, and protein for the cow. Protozoa swallow and digest bacteria, starch granules, and fiber. And fungi open up plant fibers to make them more easily digestible. It might be hard to digest what these roles actually mean, but it's pretty simple. 
 
Cows don't have the enzymes to digest the fiber they eat, so rumen microbes work together to turn forage into energy and protein that cows can use. These bugs are needed to digest feed and produce volatile fatty acids, or VFAs, which are used by the cow as energy. This energy is used for maintenance, growth, lactation, and reproduction, making these tiny bugs a very big deal. 
 
But rumen microbes don't thrive on their own. The nutrition you provide cows can help maintain an optimal rumen pH, which helps microbes flourish. An ideal rumen pH also helps cows have optimal digestion. Let's look at what can happen in ideal and less-than-ideal rumen conditions. In a healthy rumen, the stomach has a good population of microbes, and those microbes are active. 
 
Microbes perform their best when there's a consistent supply of nutrition, which maintains a consistent rumen pH. When nutrition doesn't supply the nutrients needed for the microbe population to thrive, microbes become less active and less efficient, if they function at all. This can happen with abrupt diet changes, inconsistent nutrition, and drops in rumen pH. 
 
The bottom line is, what and how you feed your cows affects which microbes grow, how the feed is utilized, and the nutrients available to the cow. One way to bridge the gap and provide the nutrients microbes need to flourish is providing your cows with Purina® Accuration® supplement, available in block, tub, liquid and meal forms. It helps provide the consistent nutrition needed to achieve a desirable rumen environment, and maintain a consistent body condition score. 
 
A consistent body condition score can lead to cows breeding back quickly, optimize conception rates, and calf weaning weights. Next time you think about your herd's nutrition, think from the inside out. It's all about the bugs. Think about feeding rumen microbes, which fuel digestion, nutrient utilization, and ultimately, a productive cow. 
 
That's greatness you can see. Purina® Accuration® with Intake Modifying Technology® is one of many proven flexible solutions available through the Purina® All Seasons™ Cattle Nutrition Program. The program covers every life stage and every season. Unlock the greatest potential of your cattle from the inside out, feed greatness.